A company's director and its manager have been jailed after the "merry-go-round stopped" and they were caught using forged documents to con ANZ into advancing more than $8 million.
The fraud by Siu Shun Ho, also known as Henry, and Christopher John Christie was committed when Ho was the sole director of International View Limited (IVL) and Christie acted as the general manager, the Herald can reveal today.
IVL was involved in importing computer parts from Asia which were then on-sold in New Zealand.
The pair were sentenced this morning in the High Court at Auckland after both pleaded guilty to two representative charges of fraud and obtaining by deception.
Justice Paul Davison described the fraud as a "sustained period of deception for just over a year" which used a "large number of false documents".
He sentenced both men to two years and 10 months in prison, with each ordered to serve at least half of the sentence.
Court documents released to the Herald reveal the extent of what the judge called "serious and sustained fraudulent offending".
Between August and September in 2016 Ho submitted six trade loans with forged invoices attached to HSBC New Zealand requesting a loan of $1,720,450, the documents show.
In July 2016, Ho and Christie had together approached ANZ seeking to refinance UVL with a $1.7m trade facility from their incumbent bank at HSBC. They also requested an overdraft facility to support and grow their business.
In October 2016, Christie emailed instructions to ANZ, requesting eight payments totalling $1,720,450 to be made to HSBC to settle IVL's trade loan, court documents show.
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In support of the email Christie, now 57, also attached eight forced HSBC transaction detail documents, five forged DHL waybill shipping dockets, three forged purchase orders and a forged inventory summary from IVL.
ANZ then acted on the fake documents, believing them to be genuine, and made the payments.
On October 31, 2016, ANZ then approved IVL with a trade finance loan facility with a limit of $2m.
Between November 2016 and July 2017 a further 28 payments totalling $5,615,442.95 were made by ANZ to two false international suppliers, EverRich Trading Ltd and Media Station Ltd.
IVL also used its HSBC transactional account to collect alleged debtor's credit funds and then provided lump sum transfers to ANZ to cover the maturing trade loans.
In August 2017 ANZ requested documentary evidence from Christie which was required for a first annual review, court documents read.
However, despite multiple requests Christie and Ho delayed the provision of documentary evidence until October 2017, when falsified financial statements were sent.
On October 24, 2017, Christie provided ANZ, via email, a forged HSBC transactional account statement for IVL.
Between August 2017 and October 2017, IVL submitted seven further trade loan finance applications to ANZ, six of which were signed by Christie and one signed by Ho.
ANZ has sought to recover the money and claims a $2.3m loss which included lost interest and legal and liquidators costs, the court heard today.
But Ho's lawyer, Guyon Foley, said the lost funds claimed by ANZ appear to be at odds with documentary evidence and he believed the bank's legal costs appeared high.
Justice Davison accepted the principal loss was $1.85m and did not take into account lost interest for ANZ when sentencing the two men.
Ho, a 65-year-old man born and raised in Hong Kong before coming to New Zealand for his family to have a better life, committed the fraud in a bid to save his company, Foley told the court.
"The music stopped - the ANZ were out of pocket," Foley said.
However, there was no evidence that Ho had lived an extravagant lifestyle with the stolen funds or carried out the fraud for greed, the barrister added.
In a letter of remorse, Ho said he "feels bad and can't forgive himself for what he has done".
He said the fraud was a desperate attempt to protect his company and staff.
For two years, Ho said, he tried to sell assets to repay the loss to ANZ before being declared bankrupt.
Christie's lawyer, Ron Mansfield, said both men had "sought to save a company but have lost their lives as they knew it".
"The merry-go-round stopped ... When the merry-go-round stopped he acknowledged the offending to the liquidator," Mansfield said of his client.
Christie said in a letter that since his offending was exposed he has felt relieved.
He said he was "living in fear for a long time" and after being caught was finally able to talk to his wife about his lies, which he said led to his physical and mental health suffering.
According to records for the New Zealand Companies Office, IVL is currently in liquidation and has liquidators, receivers or voluntary administrators appointed.