Loizos Michaels jailed for eight years

MATT NIPPERT
Last updated 14:13 18/12/2012
Loizos Michaels
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ
JAIL SENTENCE: Loizos Michaels at Auckland District Court during his trial.

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Notorious conman Loizos Michaels has been sentenced in the Auckland District Court to eight years in prison with a three years, nine months non-parole period.

Michaels, 45, was found guilty of 30 counts of fraud at the Auckland District Court last month.

During an eight-week trial the court heard Michaels had spun an elaborate web of deceit and claimed connections to Macau-based billions and the Japanese Yakuza.

Judge Christopher Field said  there was nothing mitigating Michaels' offending.

"This was motivated by naked greed. You adopted a predatory approach over a period of many months, and you chose your targets with care," he said.

The judge said the crimes Michaels had committed involved $3.3 million, less money than other recent fraud cases, but the deception involved was different.

"This was fraud on a very personal level. This is not the case of a director issuing a misleading company prospectus to the public at large," he said.

Field said Michaels systemically drained his victims using well thought-out lies. "When one was squeezed dry you moved on to the next," he said.

"You led them on with promises that became more extravagant as their trust in you increased."

Prosecutor Christine Gordon said Michaels' offending was ruthless and sustained and had a devastating effect on his victims.

"There was not just one lie, there was a series of what turned out to be in the end, quite extraordinary lies," she said.

Gordon said Michaels had eight previous convictions in New Zealand and Australia, and had previously served time in prison, and this rap sheet "does represent a pattern of dishonesty offending".

She urged Judge Christopher Field to impose a prison term of eight-and-a-half years, with parole to only apply after two-thirds of the sentence.

Defence lawyer Peter Kaye said a more reasonable sentence would be six years in prison, and while some deception was involved Michaels' victims were experienced businesspeople and not particularly vulnerable.

The defence to the charges consisted solely of Michaels taking the stand to deny the allegations, but in finding him guilty last month Judge Christopher Field described Michaels' testimony as "completely incredible".

Michaels' lies were used to extract more than $3m from victims, ostensibly for investment in a range of fantastic business ventures including taking over SkyCity Entertainment Group.

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His schemes led the acting chief executive of the Christchurch Casino Stephen Lyttelton to quit his job and hand over all his money, and also stung National Party president Peter Goodfellow and All Black legend Jonah Lomu.

Serious Fraud Office acting chief executive Simon McArley said the sentence marked the end of a long journey.

"This brings to a close a long, complex and sometimes colourful case. These cases consume significant resources but it is important to do this to provide an effective response to serious financial crime," he said.

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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