Fraudster leaves prison

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 12:52 31/07/2013
Michael Swann
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ

PAROLED: Michael Swann is driven from Christchurch Men's Prison this morning by his future employer.

Michael Swann
One News
SECOND CHANCE: A psychologist's statement declared that Michael Swann's likelihood of re-offending is low.

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Fraudster Michael Andrew Swann was driven from Christchurch Men's Prison today by his future employer - the man who sent a threatening letter to the Parole Board.

Swann, 51, was wearing sunglasses and a brown knitted jersey as he left the prison shortly after 9am.

He has been paroled to live with Christchurch businessman Alasdair Cassels at his Governors Bay property, which is worth about $1.35 million.

The home has an indoor pool and harbour views and is surrounded by a vineyard.

Cassels is a director and majority shareholder of Cassels & Sons Brewery and owns the Woolston Tannery complex.

Cassels has said that he offered Swann "a lifeline" after the Parole Board ruled that another proposed address was unsuitable.

Cassels first met Swann many years ago, but did not consider him a close friend.

Swann will work for a Christchurch company doing engineering and biotech work.

Earlier this year, his future boss sent a letter to the Parole Board to take and fund judicial review proceedings if Swann did not receive a favourable outcome.

The letter represented "an extraordinary turn of events" as the board prepared to deliver a decision on whether Swann was to be paroled.

Swann and his associate, Kerry Harford, were found guilty in 2008 of defrauding the then Otago District Health Board of about $16.9m by invoicing the board for bogus computer-related services.

He was ordered to repay the Crown $9.5m.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said only $3.2m had been recovered.

Swann has acknowledged it is unlikely he will be able to repay the sum in full.

Swann, the health board's information technology manager at the time, was sentenced to nine and a half years' jail, with a non-parole period of four and a half years.

A Corrections spokeswoman confirmed Swann was released from prison this morning.

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