Aussie accused of $22m NZ fraud
A young Queensland-based submarine entrepreneur has been accused of making a false $22 million insurance claim in New Zealand.
Corey DJ Hinds appeared briefly in the Manukau District Court today facing a single charge of obtaining by deception.
It's alleged the 24-year-old man tried to claim $22 million from IAG Insurance on May 28, days after his two cutting-edge submersibles were stolen from a South Auckland workshop.
A spokesman for IAG confirmed the charge had come about through an insurance claim but no money had changed hands.
He would not elaborate on the circumstances surrounding the case.
Hinds – who describes himself as "an exceptionally talented man with an entrepreneurial flair" on his website – attended court wearing a dress shirt and jersey with his hair slicked back.
In court documents his address was listed as Caboolture, Queensland, but it is understood work on the submarines was being carried out in Wiri, south Auckland.
Community magistrate Phil Greenbank remanded Hinds on bail and ordered he surrender his passport.
Hinds Systems Ltd calls itself "the marine equivalent of the space programme".
The company, which was set up at the end of last year, marketed its deep-sea submersibles for research and development purposes, and it is understood the US Navy was interested in the technology.
"With a carbon-fibre body, it's a fairly undetectable underwater object. Remote-controlled, it can live in the ocean for up to 300 days, down to 1000 metres, while it scans and photographs its environment," the website said.
"The navy will deploy these submersibles for months and track underwater threats for thousands of miles without human contact."
Hinds this year employed chartered accountants Staples Rodway, who ran a glowing article about the cutting-edge technology in its autumn internal newsletter.
"It's hard to comprehend that something measuring only 9 metres long with very little on the outside could possibly be worth $20m," it said.
"It will be a pleasure to watch where this company and its product head in the future. I bet we'll be seeing big things from Corey Hinds in the years to come."
Staples Rodway director Phil Parvis was "gobsmacked" when Fairfax disclosed the allegations against Hinds.
He heard the two submersibles had been reported as stolen at the end of May and he was told last week parts of them had been recovered.
"It's one of those bizarre situations where everyone seemed to be fascinated by [the product] and there was quite a lot of interest shown in it," Parvis said.
"To then turn around and have the fraud allegations, I'm sort of trying to put two and two together."
All phone numbers for Hinds Systems were disconnected or not answered when called today.
Hinds will be back in the Manukau District Court this month.