Conman leaves trail around NZ

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 08:55 30/03/2014

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Police across New Zealand have launched separate investigations into convicted fraudster Nicholas Birch, who was allegedly fronting an Auckland nightclub while on parole.

The 26-year-old was recalled into Otago Corrections Facility custody after it emerged he was involved in the day-to- day running of Revenge Bar and Nightclub on Karangahape Rd.

The Lupo Investments-owned bar closed just over a week ago, with a number of debts outstanding.

The Sunday Star-Times understands the listed director of the company, former Shortland St actor Rudi Vodanovich, has since laid a complaint about Birch with Auckland police.

Auckland police confirmed they had received a complaint, which had been referred to the fraud squad for investigation.

Police in New Plymouth and Dunedin said they had received separate complaints about Birch and criminal investigations were already under way.

The Revenge Bar venture was the latest in a string of businesses linked to Birch since his release from prison in October 2011.

Other included a New Plymouth horse breeding and harness racing farm and the Dunedin-based Equivel Ltd, a deer velvet supplement business which has ceased operation.

Bayleys real estate agency advertised the lease on the nightclub building, at 309 Karangahape Rd, on Wednesday on behalf of the building's owner, Masfen Group. Both floors were available.

Prominent Auckland businessman and harness racing horse owner and breeder John Street, from whom Birch sought financial help, could not be reached, but a woman who answered his phone said Street had retrieved his stock from the bar.

"It's all out. We've got nothing to do with the bar," she said, without being drawn on how much money Street had lost.

Creditors include two security companies. CPSI Ltd owner Sean Michaels said Birch owed his company $5200 for sanding and painting work during Revenge Bar's fit-out.

Another security firm, whose owner asked not to be named, said three guards worked on the door three nights a week for three weeks, but the invoices went unpaid. Birch signed the service agreement with his full name, he said. The owner would not reveal the exact sum owed, but said it was "not insignificant . . . we're probably part of a sad trail of creditors that won't get paid".

Birch, who was declared bankrupt in 2008, is prohibited from being involved in the management or promotion of a company until 2015. He was jailed in 2010 for fraud offending in Christchurch.

He pretended to be a millionaire to lure four 16-year-old schoolboys and a 19-year-old man into sex acts by falsely offering them $10,000 to $50,000 in return. The sentencing judge called him a "conman".

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Birch is yet to appear in court in relation to alleged breaches of his parole conditions. He will also appear before the Parole Board for a substantive recall hearing next month.

- Sunday Star Times

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