A Hamilton man has been accused of theft over his alleged use of $1.7 million against the instructions of the financial services firm he worked for.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Richard James Whitham - who told the Herald this week he was on holiday in Singapore – after he failed to appear in the Hamilton District Court earlier on a charge of theft by a person in a special relationship.
Court documents allege that Whitham, 39, had control of US$1.2m ($1.7m) under the requirements of Hamilton financial services provider Worldclear, where he worked.
Police allege in court documents that Whitham intentionally dealt with that money "otherwise than in accordance with those requirements and thereby committed theft".
Seperately, a High Court judge has placed a freezing order over bank accounts of the employee, Richard James Whitham, and a company he directs has been put into interim liquidation.
Neither Whitham nor a representative of the company were in court to challenge the application for the freezing order and interim liquidation.
Whitham told the Herald this week he denies the allegations Worldclear had made in the separate civil case.
Worldclear alleged in the High Court civil case that a company which Withham directs, T1 Holdings, owed it at least $4m.
Worldclear, in that application to appoint interim liquidators, said that it employed Richard Whitham to help build rapport with local trading banks after difficulties with maintaining relationships with them.
When that approach didn't work, Worldclear changed tack and after discussions with Whitham decided to form a new company, T1 Holdings.
This firm would open bank accounts and conduct financial transactions on Worldclear's behalf.
Over the following months, Worldclear paid money into T1 bank accounts and instructed Whitham to process financial transactions from the accounts on behalf of Worldclear.
Whitham, according to its director David Hillary, also set up several Worldclear staff as users of the T1 accounts so they would have access.
By May 17 this year, T1 had 26 bank accounts with a total of $4.61m in them, Worldclear said.
According to Worldclear, Whitham was in the office on that day processing payments but said he needed to leave early to deal with a personal matter and did not expect to be back the following day.
After later receiving no response to subsequent messages, Hillary said he called the banks and was informed that the administrator of the accounts, Whitham, had removed Worldclear staff as users.
Hillary told the court he believed Whitham had left the country and remaining funds in T1's accounts could be in jeopardy.
Whitham told the Herald he had not taken any money, and was on a planned holiday which Hillary knew about.
"[Hillary] tried to contact me once to say 'where are you' but he knew exactly where I was, and next thing we knew our accounts were frozen," Whitham said.