12 Jun 2012

'Runaway millionaire' admits theft charges

10:21 pm on 12 June 2012

The man who left the country after a $10 million overdraft was mistakenly put into his Westpac bank account has pleaded guilty to a reduced number of charges.

Hui Gao, also known as Leo, appeared at the Auckland District Court on Tuesday and admitted seven counts of theft totalling more than $6 million.

He originally faced 16 charges of theft and two of money laundering.

Gao's former partner, Kara Hurring, was found guilty in May this year for her part in the theft.

The pair left their rented Rotorua home and fled to China in 2009 after Westpac mistakenly loaded a $10 million overdraft into Gao's business account.

Gao was extradited to New Zealand last year and has been remanded on electronic bail until sentencing in August.

Crown prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch says the charges were amended before Gao's guilty plea and reflect the same level of offending and the same amount of stolen money.

Mr Pilditch says he is pleased Gao pleaded guilty and avoided a costly and lengthy trial.

Hurring, 33, is also to be sentenced in August following her conviction at Rotorua District Court on theft and money laundering charges.