Bank set to give up fraudster's cash, shares

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 15/06/2013
Wayne Patterson
JOHN SELKIRK/ Fairfax NZ
FRAUDSTER: Wayne Patterson.

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The Crown appears to have won its battle to recover millions of dollars being held in an Austrian bank by benefit fraudster Wayne Patterson.

Patterson, 54, is serving a prison sentence of nearly nine years for stealing $3.4 million in benefits by using 123 fake identities. His sentence ends in July 2015.

After his capture in 2006, the Crown recovered $3.5m from Patterson, but has since spent the past six years trying to recover shares and cash he stashed in the Anglo Irish Bank in Austria.

Last week, Patterson told the Parole Board he had instructed his lawyer in Austria to cease court action and that he wished the Apple shares and cash totalling about $2.5m to be repaid to the Ministry of Social Development.

He claimed to have "no control over the situation" and said it was the bank that refused to release the funds.

But information disclosed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment tells a different story.

The information, supplied to Fairfax Media under the Official Information Act, showed lawyers employed by Patterson's Seychelles-based company, Westgate Holdings, had gone to great lengths to hold on to the funds.

A ministry official said that as far as he was aware Patterson was still fighting his case through the Austrian courts and had no knowledge of any instruction to hand over the funds to the MSD.

The MBIE information shows proceedings in the Austrian criminal courts between 2009 and 2011 resulted in a win for Patterson, with a finding that the assets were not directly obtained by his criminal offending.

However, about the time the ruling was made in October 2011, the Crown also initiated civil proceedings. Those followed a similarly tortuous route through the system, with Patterson's Austrian lawyer filing numerous appeals against rulings in favour of Crown enforcement orders.

The matters have been heard in the Vienna regional and district courts, with costs awarded to the Crown of $3668 and $7028 respectively.

Patterson's avenues for appeal appear to have come to an end and an application to the regional court for legal aid by his lawyer was rejected in April.

Guy Sayers, compliance manager of the MBIE's official assignee unit, said Patterson's lawyer had appealed against that decision to the Austrian Court of Appeal.

"I have no knowledge of any indication from Mr Patterson or his lawyer that he intends to desist from the court process in Austria and that he has instructed his lawyer that any funds should be handed to MSD," Sayers said.

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The court action had cost the ministry more than $300,000 to date, he said.

Patterson's parole hearing last week ended with the board referring a forged job offer letter to police.

- The Dominion Post

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