The final chapter in the three-year saga of the runaway millionaires was written this morning when they were sentenced in Rotorua District Court.
Former Rotorua couple Hui "Leo" Gao and girlfriend Kara Hurring spent more than two years on the run after fleeing the country in April 2009 when $10 million was mistakenly deposited into Gao's Westpac Bank business overdraft, instead of the intended $100,000.
Hurring was eventually arrested 22 months later when she returned to Auckland in February 2011 to renew her daughter's passport.
The 33-year-old was found guilty by a Rotorua jury in May of 30 charges of theft, attempting to dishonestly use a bankcard, and money-laundering totalling $256,000.
She was today sentenced to nine months home detention and was ordered to pay 11,800 reparation to the bank.
Gao, 31, was extradited from Hong Kong in December 2011 after he was arrested by border police as he tried to cross from mainland China.
The former Rotorua BP service station owner later pleaded guilty in June to seven charges of theft totalling $6.7m that he had transferred to offshore accounts in Macau and Hong Kong.
Gao was sentenced to four years and seven months in jail. He indicated he could not pay the money back.
Westpac Bank recovered $2.9m when Gao's accounts were frozen, but $3.7m remains outstanding.
The couple face a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment.
They created international headlines as they spent nearly 2 years on the run, while gambling large amounts of money at Wynn's Casino in Macau.
Gao reportedly acted "like a dick" and yelled "I'm f...ing rich" when he opened his laptop in his Rotorua flat in April 2009 to find $10m in his overdraft account. Hurring maintained she did not know how he obtained the money but remembered seeing "lots of zeros" when he showed her his account balance.
She said Gao told strangers he had won the money in Lotto.
A few days after the banking error, the pair travelled to Auckland, where Gao used remittance companies to transfer the funds up to $500,000 at a time to Hong Kong banks.
A week later he left for Hong Kong to meet his parents at Macau, reuniting with Hurring and her young daughter four days later.
The pair have been remanded on bail at separate addresses since they each pleaded guilty.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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