An Auckland businessman who allegedly used the name of Jonah Lomu in a $3 million fraud has skipped the country after supposedly visiting his sick mother in Australia.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Loizos Michaels, who failed to show up in the Auckland District Court four weeks after he was supposed to return to New Zealand.

Michaels, who owns Plato's Greek Taverna in Ponsonby Rd, was arrested and charged by the Serious Fraud Office in February with three counts of fraud totalling $3 million.

He was forced to surrender his passport as part of his bail conditions. But his defence lawyer, Simon Lance, successfully asked for the passport to be returned so Michaels could visit his sick mother in Australia.

Despite the Crown's protest that Michaels was a flight risk, Judge Josephine Bouchier released the passport to him on July 9.

He was supposed to fly back on July 27 and return the passport to the Auckland District Court.

Serious Fraud Office director Adam Feeley said he intended to make an application for extradition.

One of the SFO charges is that Michaels made false representations to obtain $353,025 from the owners of Sacred Waters - a five-star accommodation complex at Lake Taupo - in a deal to buy luxury apartments valued at $12 million.

The SFO says Michaels told co-owners Edward and Janet Jackson the money would be deposited in a Belgian bank, and a purchase agreement was drawn up. He later rang the Jacksons' lawyer to change the name of the purchaser to Jonah Lomu. The purchaser's name was later changed to Nick Karidis.

But the sale never went through.

Lomu, who was not part of the SFO investigation, told the Weekend Herald last year that he was duped by a proposal from Michaels to become "the global face of kickboxing" but was never paid.

He had not invested any money with Michaels but had done "months and months" of work.

Court documents show the other two complainants in the case are former Christchurch Casino executives Stephen Lyttelton and Peter Arbuckle, who left the casino in 2007 to pursue what the SFO says were fictitious business opportunities with Michaels.

He is charged with obtaining $1,782,760 from Mr Arbuckle and $1,054,000 from Mr Lyttelton after telling the pair he worked for a leading Macau casino empire, Melco.

The SFO says Michaels and George Plakas from Melbourne visited Christchurch Casino in February 2007 claiming to be "high rollers" and demanding VIP treatment.

Mr Lyttelton and Mr Arbuckle began treating them to first-class service, and a friendship developed.

The SFO claims Michaels told the two men he was part of a wealthy Greek-Cypriot family and was a "corporate raider" for Melco casinos.

Disappearing act
* July 9: Passport returned to Loizos Michaels to visit sick mother in Australia.

* July 28: Michaels supposed to return passport.

* August 25: Arrest warrant issued for Michaels for breach of bail.