Millions in assets seized from criminals
The Crown has recovered a record $7.4 million from criminals who benefited from their crimes - nearly twice the previous record - and the haul is expected to increase in coming years.
Figures provided under the Official Information Act by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show the Crown cashed up the assets of 49 recovery actions in the year to June 30. A further 67 cases involving $27.4m in seized assets remain open.
The two largest recoveries last year were drug-related: $3.5m from the Know-All Group and $1.05m from Steven Baird.
The Know-All Group ran a money-laundering and drug operation from a foreign exchange shop near the SkyCity casino in Auckland.
Police recovered $2.5m in cash, as well as the property, in 2006. The operation was run by Liang Han Shih, who died before getting to court. Two other men were jailed in 2010 for 15 years and 18 years.
Baird, a successful businessman with a plush Remuera home, was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2011 for his part in a methamphetamine ring. The house sold for $2.4m.
The actions covered forfeiture orders made between July 2010 and December last year. The biggest recovery in Wellington was $208,250 from businessman Gregory Hutt, convicted of corruption after he gave ACC property manager Malcolm Mason $160,000, after Mason persuaded his superiors at ACC to shift the Whangarei office into a building Hutt developed at Mason's instigation.
Police national manager of asset recovery Detective Inspector Paul Hampton said the increase was because of a change in legislation and a focus on criminals accruing assets. He expected further increases in the amount recovered in coming years. "Criminals certainly are becoming aware of the legislation. If you've got a family member who's been involved in crime for a number of years and accumulated a whole lot of assets, flash vehicles, flash boats et cetera, and they are taken away, then hopefully the next generation will see the crime is not worth it," he said.
The largest of the cases still to be closed involves $6m in assets, including a dairy farm, seized from Hamilton's Stephen Gray, who was given a 12-year jail term in March after being found guilty of manufacturing and supplying methamphetamine and supplying ecstasy.
Also still to be paid to the Crown is the $3.2m earned from the sale of property, cars and boats that belonged to Michael Swann, who, together with associate Kerry Harford, defrauded the Otago District Health Board of about $16.9m using invoices for bogus computer-related services.
MAKING CRIME PAY
Money paid to the Crown from seized assets: