Two sentenced to jail over multi-million dollar bank fraud

by Krizzel Canlas02 Oct 2018

Two businessmen have been jailed for fraudulently obtaining $41 million bank loan to build an Auckland inner-city apartment block.

Property developer Leonard John Ross, 52, was sentenced to four years and four months’ imprisonment, while company director Michael James Wehipeihana, 46, was sentenced to four years and three months’ imprisonment at the Auckland High Court.

According to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Ross and Wehipeihana lied to the ANZ Bank in order to obtain development loan for their company, Emily Projects Ltd, to construct the Waldorf Celestion Apartment Hotel. The pair lied to the bank about the number of genuine presales they had made, forged documents to support the loan application and later, used additional forged documents when the apartments were on-sold to genuine purchasers.

Following an eight-week trial in July, a jury found them guilty on all charges they faced, namely three charges of obtaining by deception and two representative charges of using forged documents.

“The sentences imposed reflect the seriousness of offending,” SFO director Julie Read said. “Mr. Ross and Mr. Wehipeihana misled the bank to ensure that Emily Projects Ltd obtained the loan facility.”

The two other men – self-employed consultant, Vaughn Stephen Foster and former lawyer, Timothy Upton Slack – were earlier sentenced to 10 months’ home detention for being involved in the fraudulent scheme

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