Court told of gambling chips mystery

Last updated 07:32 17/05/2012

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Kara Hurring bought more than $250,000 worth of gambling chips at a Macau casino, but what happened to them is a mystery, her trial has been told.

Hurring, 33, fled to Hong Kong in May 2009 after $10 million was mistakenly deposited into the Westpac Bank business account of her former partner, Leo Gao, a Rotorua service station owner.

Gao wired HK$1.5 million (NZ$252,000) from a Hong Kong bank to Wynn's International casino in Macau for Hurring to open a VIP gambling account for playing baccarat, Rotorua District Court was told yesterday.

During her 10-day stay at the casino, she withdrew the full amount to buy gambling chips, but gambled only NZ$17,000 worth, the casino operator's vice-president, Jason Schall, told the court.

The remaining $235,000 could not be accounted for, and is the subject of one of two money-laundering charges Hurring faces.

Mr Schall said the casino had sophisticated methods for tracking how many chips were used for gambling, and on what tables.

"We know HK$1.4m was withdrawn but we do not know what happened to the sum after that."

The chips were not deposited back into Hurring's account, he said. They could be used only in the casino and not for accommodation at any of the casino's 1000 hotel rooms, or at any of the restaurants or shops.

"Being a caucasian, she would be noticed if she was attempting to cash the chips."

She had NZ$1850 left in her account when the casino was made aware stolen funds were involved, he said. She was subsequently banned from the casino.

Hurring has pleaded not guilty to 30 charges of theft, dishonestly using a bank card and money laundering. Fairfax NZ

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- The Marlborough Express

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