Landlord denies faking quake claims

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 11:54 09/06/2014

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A Christchurch landlord is disputing allegations she created or edited documents to put in false invoices for emergency earthquake repair work on her properties.

Sally Mengtung Ye denies 34 charges of dishonestly using documents to get a financial advantage, and one charge of wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice by sending false documents to the court.

The Christchurch District Court trial is before a judge alone, Judge John Macdonald, and is expected to continue into next week with Crown prosecutor Marcus Zintl calling evidence from 32 witnesses.

Tim Fournier appears as defence counsel for Ye, who is being assisted by a Cantonese interpreter.

Zintl told the court the Crown case alleged Ye had falsified invoices from five fictitious entities, which she sent to EQC by email, seeking payments for the repairs or reimbursement for repairs already done. The invoices were created by her or edited by her from original documents.

Property owners were allowed to get emergency repairs without prior approval from EQC to make properties secure, sanitary, or water resistant, if the repair was less than $2000.

Ye sent in claims for properties owned by her, her partner, or her mother.

They related to 12 properties - one was her address and the other 11 operated as rentals.

A total of 34 invoices were received, with $12,895 paid out, and $14,895 remaining unpaid.

Inquiries showed that only one of the five entities had existed but it was not at the address given on the invoice, and had not traded under that name since 2006.

Police interviewed Ye and seized three of her computers.

Zintl said analysis of the computers showed Ye had created invoices, or had scanned and edited them.

She told police she had paid tenants in cash or in lieu of rent for doing some work on the properties. She said a lot of people had repaired her rental properties and she now had trouble trying to find them to prove she had used legitimate companies.

Zintl said Crown evidence would show police tried to find the people and companies, their email addresses, their street addresses listed on the invoices, and their bank accounts, but without success.

They could not find evidence of emails from the companies or individuals being sent to Ye's computers.

Ye said one of the companies was her own company and the workers were tenants at one of her rental properties. She had paid them in cash. She said in a DVD interview that she had not made up the invoice, and had operated the company as a sole trader.

Fournier told the judge: "Obviously, these matters are disputed."

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The trial is continuing.

- The Press

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