High-flying claims at jobs seminar

A Taupo man has told how a man purporting to know "everyone in the Australian mining industry" also gloated about being able to "fly a helicopter backwards", as he was a famous pilot.

Murray Drinnan and his wife, Sharon, attended a seminar for mining jobs in Hamilton after spying an advertisement from AAAjobforyou in the Taupo Times in April, 2012. In the ad the company said it could get people jobs in the Australian mining industry.

The advertisement was placed by Frank Allan Yeates, 61, who is on trial in the Hamilton District Court, defending three charges of making false statements and one of knowingly being a party to AAAjobforyou NZ Ltd carrying on a business with intent to defraud members of the public between February and June 2012. Yeates maintains he is being falsely accused and the circumstances of the company's collapse were out of his control.

But Mr and Mrs Drinnan's suspicions were raised even before they attended a seminar at the Hamilton RSA.

Mr Drinnan said the advertisement stated it was associated with a company called PF and DTM International Group Ltd, which had been around for 14 years.

However, the couple could not find any information about it on the internet.

"We searched but we went to the seminar. We thought it was dodgy but thought we'd give it a go anyway. We had our doubts but at the time work was real hard, life was hard, it was hard to make a living," Mr Drinnan said.

At the seminar, they first heard from Yeates' associate, Steve Fahey. Mr Drinnan told the court that Mr Fahey told the attendees how much they could expect to make and they would not have to pay any money to them yet, that AAAjobforyou would not get paid until the person had been in the job for two years and was "making fabulous amounts of money".

Mr Drinnan said Mr Fahey was telling people how they would get flown home every four weeks, before Yeates took the stage saying he was a world-famous helicopter pilot who knew "everyone in the mining industry".

"When [Frank Yeates] took over, he was really laying it on then . . . he was appealing to the Kiwi battler, how he was a helicopter pilot and could fly them backwards, and was known all over the country . . . and how he wouldn't advertise in the city because city people were lazy and ‘you guys know how to work'. It was a real hard sell. It was sad." However, Mr Drinnan said, things turned nasty when he and his wife asked Yeates why they could not find anything on the "international company", and if he could guarantee them a job. "Then he got real nasty at me, trying to humiliate me, saying that I was negative and would never get a job in the mining industry . . . you would never survive, you would never make it anyway."

Yeates' lawyer, Lyn Walkington, said her client would testify that he did not say he used to be a famous helicopter pilot but had clocked 10,000 hours and worked in the "industry".

Earlier, Auckland graphic designer Vivian Burgess of iVivid Works, finished her evidence. Mrs Walkington said Yeates would give evidence about incidents caused by Ms Burgess that led to the company's downfall.

The trial, before a jury of seven women and five men, is expected to continue into next week.