A bankrupt Auckland builder who gambled more than $20 million at the casino and lost over $1.5m - money he could have used to pay back his creditors - has been jailed.
Li Dong Xie, 50, was sentenced on 10 charges under the Insolvency Act 2006 this afternoon to three years and four months' imprisonment by Judge Russell Collins in the Auckland District Court.
Xie, who also goes by the names Lidong Xie, Frank Xie and Solomon Xie, was arrested trying to board a flight to China before he pleaded guilty to the charges on March 12 - the day he was due to stand trial.
His is one of the largest insolvency cases to ever be heard before New Zealand's courts.
Xie was bankrupted for a second time in July 2010 for failing to pay debts he incurred while running his building business, New Town Home Construction Ltd.
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He was then charged with concealing property, gambling, acting as the director of a company without the consent of the Official Assignee (OA), obtaining credit, trying to obtain credit, obtaining property on credit, failing to file a Statement of Affairs, and trying to leave New Zealand without the consent of the OA.
Court documents released to the Herald show between December 2010 and August 2015 Xie gambled $20,526,726 at SkyCity Casino.
During that period his net loss was $1,518,828 - almost exclusively all on the gaming machines.
The court heard today that the losses could have paid Xie's creditors "many, many times over by what was gambled, and lost", and that his victims had suffered substantial losses.
"We are pleased with this sentence, which is reflective of the serious harm caused by Mr Xie's failure to meet his obligations as a bankrupt," Official Assignee Ross van der Schyff said.
"This should send a strong message that such behaviour will not be tolerated, and those who attempt to game the system will see serious consequences."
Van der Schyff said in an earlier statement that Xie "showed a reckless disregard for the obligations as a bankrupt, which had been made clear to him by the Official Assignee".
"Xie continued to unlawfully run his business between July 2010 and August 2015. When he went on to receive approximately $1.5 million in earnings through his business dealings, rather than pay his creditors, he put it into slot machines at SkyCity Casino.
"The behaviour of this individual is an affront to the wider business community, who do meet their obligations, and has the potential to cause significant disruption and harm to the lives of everyday New Zealanders.
"Following this string of breaches, and Xie's attempt to leave the country in a blatant attempt to avoid his obligations, we are pleased that Mr Xie has been held to account for his offending."
Judge Collins told Xie during sentencing today: "I have no doubt you knew exactly what you were doing.
"Any claim on your part that you didn't know what you were doing, just doesn't wash with me at all."
The judge said Xie deliberately ignored his obligations as a bankrupt and continued to run his business in a "very, very hands on way".
"You were front and centre of your building operation," Judge Collins said.
Xie had tried to justify his offending as being due to a lack of communication, the court heard.
His first bankruptcy came in 2004.
As a result of the second bankruptcy, he is prohibited from being a director, promoter, or involved in the management of a company, unless he obtains the leave of the court, until March 12, 2023.
He also can not to take part in the management of any business without consent from the OA.