Respected businessman accused of stealing $1.3million from Auckland nursing home to fund his lifestyle and new home
The man, who cannot be named, was tried today in Auckland High Court and pleaded not guilty to the alleged crimes. Photo / Nick Roseau
A respected businessman allegedly stole around $1.3million from an Auckland nursing home and spent the money on he and his wife’s high-end lifestyle and building their children’s home dreams, a court heard.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, allegedly used nearly 1,100 checks over seven years to fraudulently divert money from the aged care business.
About $100,000 was reportedly paid to dozens of third-party entities, many of which were contracted to carry out work on the couple’s sprawling lifestyle property on the rural outskirts of town.
He is also accused of cashing nursing home checks totaling more than $430,000 for the couple’s own use or, along with his wife, signing checks issued by the nursing home worth nearly of $670,0000.
The man is also accused of having paid more than 265,000 dollars in salary to him and his wife and of having falsified accounting records in an attempt to cover his tracks.
It is understood that much of the spending is undisputed, and the man will say it was for a legitimate purpose or he was entitled to the money.
The man, who worked at the nursing home and, together with his wife, was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the facility, faces 49 charges of dishonesty – many of them representative – related to the alleged offence.
They include the use of a document without claim or right to a pecuniary benefit, theft by a person with a special relationship and false accounting.
The man was tried today before Judge Timothy Brewer of the Auckland High Court and pleaded not guilty to the alleged crimes.
If found guilty, he could be sent to prison.
Crown prosecutor Sam McMullan told the jury that the man had indeed used the nursing home accounts as his own and taken money to which he was not entitled.
“The checks were made out to third parties. These were third parties to whom [the man] owed money but he used [rest home] checks to pay bills.
“[The man] created a system where he could hide his fraud, the way he received money [the rest home]recording it inaccurately.”
The court heard the alleged offense began in 2005 but escalated in subsequent years as the couple’s new build began.
“We have that money taken when he needs it most.
“The amounts increase as cash is needed to [the man and his wife] are also increasing.
Forensic investigations into the nursing home’s financial records conducted after the ‘flag was raised’ in March 2012 revealed unusual salary payments to the couple far beyond their normal entitlement around the time they had to pay a deposit of $46,500 for the purchase of land in 2009.
Over the next few years, the man reportedly wrote numerous checks to builders, plumbers, window framers and various other contractors for work on the couple’s “significant” new home.
These payments were billed to the nursing home company.
McMullan described the man’s bookkeeping and record keeping as “chaotic”, which had made it difficult for investigators to determine whether much of the money was for the couple’s personal expenses or for legitimate family expenses. Rest house.
“The reason the accounting system was created this way was to conceal exactly what happened.”
The court also heard the man tried to ‘cover up’ his offense by deliberately changing the names on the financial records of beneficiary companies who worked on his home to parties who provided legitimate services to the nursing home.
The man’s lawyer, Fletcher Pilditch QC, told the jury his client was innocent until proven guilty.
The onus was on the Crown to prove the alleged offenses and to prove that the man had “criminal intent”.
Pilditch said it was not a crime to fall behind on bills or have “chaotic” record keeping.
“You don’t care. What you care about is if he’s guilty of a crime.”
Most of the events had happened more than ten years ago and people’s memories could change over time.
To convict his client, the jury had to be certain that he was guilty.
“Was he entitled to the benefit of checks and salary? You’re going to have to make sure he wasn’t entitled to it and that he acted dishonestly.
“He doesn’t have to prove he didn’t steal. The Crown has to prove he did.”
The trial is set for at least two weeks and resumes tomorrow.