Bank-mistake millionaires not as rich as they thought

May 23rd, 2009 - 11:54 am ICT by IANS  

Wellington, May 23 (DPA) Fugitives who fled New Zealand after a bank mistakenly gave them a 10-million-New-Zealand-dollar (US$6.1 million) overdraft are not as rich as they might have thought, according to news reports on Saturday.
And there appears to be more people to share their ill-gotten gains than the two people police have said are at the centre of a manhunt, which is centred on Hong Kong.

The drama began when the Westpac Bank accidentally gave Leo Gao, part owner of a struggling auto service station in Rotorua, access to 10 million New Zealand dollars when formalising a temporary overdraft of $100,000.

He tried to withdraw $6.7 million, but the bank blocked access to 2.9 million, leaving him with 3.8 million.

Cutting its losses, the bank has since seized mortgaged properties owned by Gao and his business partner Huan Di Zhang worth more than $1.9 million, the Weekend Herald reported.

Police and the bank have not named the suspects who are now being sought by Interpol, but the mother of Gao’s girlfriend, Kara, or Cara, Young, told the TV3 channel on Friday that she knew her daughter was “somewhere in Asia”.

Suzanne Hurring said Young was with Gao and had taken her seven-year-old daughter, Lena, with her.

News reports said Young’s sister Aroha was also with them and the Weekend Herald said Gao’s mother and brother had disappeared.

It reported that Gao’s rundown utility vehicle was found in the long-term parking at Auckland International Airport and the whereabouts of Huan Di Zhang, who owned 60 percent of the service station, were also unknown.

Hurring appealed to her daughter to come home, saying, “This was the craziest thing she’s ever done. She’s never pinched a thing in her life - probably when she was a little girl, yes. She’s honest, so honest.”

She said Leo Gao was an “OK guy” but she would like to wring his neck and he could stay away.

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