Four facing charges in $40m hotel deal

  • 16/02/2017
sfo fraud

Four people have been charged for allegedly using forged documents to obtain a loan for about $40 million to build an Auckland hotel.

Property developer Leonard John Ross, 50, a company director Michael James Wehipeihana, 45, consultant Vaughn Stephen Foster, 54, and another person with name suppression each face four charges of obtaining by deception and two of using forged documents.

The charges relate to the mens' alleged false statements and use of forged documents to obtain credit from ANZ Bank so company Emily Projects Limited could develop the Waldorf Celestion Apartment Hotel in Auckland.

The Serious Fraud Office alleges the company was granted access to an approximately $40 million line of credit.

"The SFO alleges that the defendants conspired to mislead ANZ to secure a loan facility," SFO director Julie Read said.

"The banks are entitled to expect that businesses will provide accurate information in support of their loan applications and a failure to do so may have cost implications for all."

Ross is listed as the sole director and largest shareholder of Emily Projects, which was put into liquidation in December 2011 by special resolution of shareholders.

ANZ Bank was listed as the only secured creditor, in the first liquidators' report. The final liquidators' report, dated October 2015, showed unsecured creditors were paid $420,301, or 11.8 cents in the dollar.

Wehipeihana is among six shareholders, according to the Companies Office.