Landlord denies fake quake-repair claims
A Christchurch landlord has denied filing false invoices for earthquake repairs, claiming she paid for work in cash.
Giving evidence mainly through a Cantonese interpreter, 50-year-old Sally Mengtung Ye told the Christchurch District Court trial the September 2010 earthquake caused "heaps of damage" to rental properties owned by herself, her boyfriend and her mother.
She told of cracking and damage to pipes, water leakage, and roof damage.
Ye said she sometimes looked for people she knew to complete repairs. She said invoices were sometimes given to her or emailed through, though the Crown case alleges no record of emailed invoices can be found on her computers.
Ye said in one case she was advised by a loss adjuster to pay for the work and then seek reimbursement when the claim was approved. She paid that tradesman in cash because he asked for payment that way.
In another case, an Indian tenant at one of the properties asked to do repair work in lieu of rent. The tenant received advice, and had then created an invoice. Again, she had paid in cash.
She denied in evidence that she had been involved in the making of other invoices the Crown accuses her of creating herself.
An Electronic Crime Laboratory analyst showed the court on Wednesday how he believed one earlier invoice had been scanned and then been over-written with false details.
Ye told the court that the police had taken away two of her computers, which she referred to as her Chinese and English computers.
She had received her emails on her English computer, which had been analysed by the Electronic Crime Laboratory.
She said that when she received invoices by email, she would not save the downloaded version, but would cut and paste the invoice and then save it in Microsoft Works.
She went through the series of documents which are the subject of the charges, with her defence counsel Tim Fournier, telling the court that she had paid the tradesmen for the work and had not made the invoices herself.
Today is the fifth day of the trial before a judge-alone, Judge John Macdonald.
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 claims related to 12 properties. Thirty-four invoices for repair work were received by EQC, with $12,895 paid out and $14,210 unpaid.
Prosecutor Marcus Zintl called evidence from 32 witnesses before the Crown finished its case late yesterday afternoon.