‘Accidental millionaire’ Hui ‘Leo’ Gao was sentenced in New Zealand on Friday to 55 months in prison for stealing millions of dollars after a bank error credited him with too much money.
Gao had attempted to overdraft $100,000 New Zealand dollars, the equivalent of $81,000 USD from the Westpac bank to renovate his BP petrol station in an attempt to sell, but an error gave him the equivalent of $8.1 million.
He and his former girlfriend, Kara Hurring, fled to China after transferring the funds to an overseas account.
Hurring was sentenced to nine months under house arrest and ordered to pay the equivalent of 9500 USD, having withdrawn that using Gao’s credit card.
Gao’s bank accounts were frozen after the overseas bank transfer. He was eventually arrested in September 2010 trying to enter Hong Kong.
Hurring was arrested when she returned to New Zealand in February 2011 soon after the birth of their child. She was charged with 25 counts of theft and found guilty in May.
The bank has recovered $2.4 million US of the $5.4 million USD transferred overseas. $3 million USD is still outstanding.