Cash from sale of Love-Skiffington house obtained by fraud to be given back to iwi

The profits from a house that was fraudulently obtained by prominent Māori leader Sir Ngatata Love and the late Lorraine Skiffington will be returned to iwi.

Sir Ngatata faced charges of fraud and corruption at a judge-alone trial at the Wellington High Court in 2016.

He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison despite suffering from diabetes, dementia and a heart condition. He died in October.

Police said in a statement on Tuesday that the High Court had ordered the forfeiture of the $1.5 million house.

Sir Ngatata's offending relating to diverting $1.5m from a property development for his and Skiffington's personal gain, causing financial loss to the Tenths Trust - which was established to administer Māori reserve lands, largely in urban Wellington.

The property was restrained by the Police Commissioner in 2014, and it was sold last year to "protect as much equity as possible".

Now the property has been formerly forfeited under the Criminal Proceeds Act, an agreement has been reached to return the proceeds of the sale to the Tenths Trust.

Detective Senior Sergeant Brent Murray, of the central asset recovery unit, said he was pleased with the outcome.

"Returning this money will reduce as much of the financial loss caused to the trust and its beneficiaries.

"We are hopeful the outcome of this proceeding will make a difference for the victims of this serious crime.

"The message here is clear, if any person attempts to profit from crime, they risk lengthy terms of imprisonment and loss of their assets."