Runaway millionaire's petrol station gets new life
Abandoned since its then-owner, Leo Gao, became the "runaway millionaire", a former Rotorua service station will soon be resurrected as a takeaway joint.
It's been five years since Gao and Kara Hurring fled New Zealand after Westpac accidentally gave Gao a $10 million overdraft.
What was then his BP service station on the corner of Otonga and Old Taupo Rds has remained empty since.
But in the past few months it's had a lick of paint and the building on the forecourt has been converted to a food outlet.
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Rotorua restaurateurs Connie and Kwok Choy Cho hope to open the new takeaway outlet in two to three weeks.
Called Super Lucky, it will sell Chinese and roast meals as well as fish and chips, Mrs Cho told the Rotorua Daily Post. The couple also own China Town Restaurant on Amohau St, which caters mainly to tourist groups.
Mrs Cho said they had been renting the building for "two or three years" but due to a lack of funds had been unable to open but now they would be employing three or four staff to work in Super Lucky.
She said the couple were aware of the site's history through the media. The "runaway millionaire" case attracted worldwide attention after the bank error in early 2009.
Days after applying for a $100,000 overdraft for the struggling service station, Gao realised the bank had mistakenly given him a $10 million limit and transferred cash into overseas bank accounts before fleeing New Zealand with Hurring, his girlfriend at the time. He eventually was caught and pleaded guilty to seven charges of theft and was sentenced in 2012 to four years and seven months' jail. He was released on parole in December last year.
Hurring served nine months' home detention and was ordered to pay $11,830 reparation for her part in the offending.