ROTORUA, New Zealand (TVNZ) -- What would you do if millions of dollars mistakenly appeared in your bank account? Well, now we're hearing how a couple dubbed the "accidental millionaires" reacted. One of them, Kara Hurring has denied dozens of charges including money laundering after $10 million went into her ex-partner's account.
Kara Hurring appeared calm and business-like as she entered court today, keen to plead her innocence. But the prosecution opened its case claiming 33-year-old Hurring and her then partner, Leo Gao, were anything but innocent when Gao found $10 million in his WestPac account.
A banking error accidentally loaded the multimillion dollar overdraft. Gao had applied to WestPac for $100,000 to help save his struggling Rotorua petrol station. Former employee Chloe Johnston says, "It was a sham, it used to run out of gas all the time ... Leo owed money."
The court heard Leo Gao was quick to divide the money up, putting nearly $7 million into off-shore accounts before fleeing to china. Kara Hurring stayed behind for four more days, making repeated purchases and withdrawals, up to the daily limit, using an EFTPOS card from Gao's own ASB account.
For that, Kara Hurring faces 25 counts of theft of around $11,000 and three of dishonestly using a document. She claims she didn't know where the money came from.
The prosecution says she told her mother she did. Her mother Suzanne says, "She'll describe how the accused was excited, claiming she was rich"
Its alleged Hurring transferred more than $340,000 into a holding account at a casino when she arrived in Macao. For that, she faces three counts of international money laundering. The couple stayed hidden from New Zealand authorities in China for two years.
But in early 2011, Hurring gave birth to a baby boy, and applied for a passport. The prosecuting attorney says, "The passport was seized and the accused made her way back to New Zealand"
$3.3 million is yet to be recovered and Leo Gao is still on the run.