Enemies and SFO set up case - Michaels

WILLIAM MACE
Last updated 13:54 16/11/2012
Loizos Michaels
Sunday Star Times
LOIZOS MICHAELS: On trial for fraud.

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Accused fraudster Loizos Michaels has claimed a $3 million fraud case against him is a "beautiful set-up" by his enemies and a "corrupt" Serious Fraud Office.

Michaels, who is facing 31 charges relating to losses of more than $3 million, is accused of creating an elaborate web of deceit that convinced several prominent New Zealanders to invest money in outlandish schemes, including a proposed takeover of the SkyCity casino group.

Several Crown witnesses from New Zealand and Australia, including National Party president Peter Goodfellow and former All Black star Jonah Lomu, have testified that the smooth talking Greek-Australian said he was related to a wealthy Cypriot family that controlled a major shipping line.

In the Auckland District Court today Crown prosecutor Christine Gordon put dozens of propositions, allegations and statements of witness evidence to Michaels, to which his consistent answer was "rubbish".

Michaels was in a combative mood in answering questions and at times addressed other Crown witnesses sitting in the gallery and railed against the SFO's investigation procedure.

In one exchange Gordon alleged that Michaels had also misrepresented himself to Janet Jackson in order to progress a purchase of 12 apartments at Jackson's Sacred Waters property in Taupo.

The Crown says Michaels agreed to pay $12m for the apartments but wanted Jackson to make an advance payment of $360,000 to act as security to ensure the sale went through.

Michaels rubbished earlier evidence from former All Black Lomu that he was not aware his name would be used by Michaels to progress the property deal.

"Jonah was a delaying tactic and he knew about it all the way," Michaels said.

He said the sale and purchase agreement was "not real", would not be signed as a legal document, and was designed to stall the sale while Jackson got her business partner up to speed.

Asked by the Crown prosecutor whether he saw any similarity between the "payment up-front" deals he had done with Jackson and several other people, including Christchurch Casino chief executive Stephen Lyttelton, Michaels said any link was "rubbish".

The case continues.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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