Council says its funds safe from love cheats

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 10/01/2013

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Taranaki's Regional Council has moved to reassure ratepayers its assets are safe after a former employee was scammed out of more than $800,000.

The Taranaki Daily News revealed this week Alan Young, the TRC's former financial services manager, was conned out of $862,400 by Australian dating agency True Love Corp.

TRC director-corporate services Mike Nield said Mr Young retired at the age of 65 in September 2012 after 23 years service with the council.

Mr Nield said there have been no instances of inappropriate transactions.

"The council has utmost confidence in its financial systems and results, and in its impeccable, high-quality financial controls (noting that all financial transactions must involve at least two authorised people)."

The council's finances are audited annually by Deloitte's on behalf of the Office of the Auditor-General, he said.

"They have publicly reported on financial systems, controls and results of the highest standards."

Mr Nield said there was nothing to suggest Mr Young acted with anything other than the utmost professional integrity when undertaking his council duties.

He did not say whether the council was aware of the predicament Mr Young was in.

Mr Young signed up with True Love Corp in 2006, while working for the council, and spent $10,000 upgrading his status with the service.

After falling for a woman named "Angie Jovic" who turned out to be Hollie Veall, a director of the company, he spent more than $400,000 providing "assistance" to her.

He also also spent hundreds of thousands to upgrade his membership after Jovic promised she would repay the money and they would marry.

Mr Young signed up after he answered an advertisement in the personal columns following the death of his wife from cancer.

The scam cost Mr Young his $500,000 house, his life savings and $120,000 he borrowed from his mother, who died in 2007. He retired with no savings.

He and 10 others complained to the New South Wales Fair Trading Commission which prosecuted the dating agency.

In November the NSW Supreme Court ruled that former True Love bosses husband and wife Zivko and Helen Dimitrijevski must pay A$1,123,095 (NZ$1.4 million) to the vulnerable clients they exploited. Hollie Veall was ordered to pay A$342,050.

However, the directors are bankrupt and Mr Young and the other victims are unlikely to get their money back.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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