Michaels takes stand in $3m fraud case

Last updated 16:15 12/11/2012

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Alleged fraudster Loizos Michaels has taken the stand for the first time in his fraud trial at the Auckland District Court.

The 45-year-old Auckland-based restaurateur has pleaded not guilty to 31 counts of fraud involving $3 million.

The court has heard from prominent witnesses including National Party President Peter Goodfellow, rugby star Jonah Lomu and senior Christchurch Casino executives who were roped into what the prosecution called a "web of deceit".

The charismatic accused conman spoke softly but rapidly under examination from defence lawyer Peter Kaye.

He described his early life in Cyprus, and shifting with his mother to live in Melbourne at the age of seven. Michaels said he sold newspapers on the street at an early age and quickly became fascinated with the machinations of the stock market.

"I would grab company registers and analyse them just for fun."

Michaels eventually returned to Cyprus to reconnect with his father and other family, who gifted him land and shares, including some in a shipping line.

He denied later telling people that his family ran the shipping line, or that they were going to bring a boat to Australia to set up a floating casino off the coast: "That's impossible."

Kaye said the defence case would essentially boil down to a question of credibility between the Crown's witnesses and Michaels himself.

The trial continues.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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