Auckland apartment developers sentenced to prison after $41m bank fraud

Two businessmen have each been ordered to serve over four years in prison, convicted of fraud of over $41 million.

Property developer John Ross and company director Michael James Wehipeihana were accused by the Serious Fraud Office of fraudulently obtaining a bank loan to build an Auckland inner-city apartment block.

The pair lied to ANZ, obtaining the loan for their company, Emily Projects Limited, to construct the Waldorf Celestion Apartment Hotel.

Using forged documents, the pair lied to the bank about the number of pre-sales made.

Both were sentenced at the Auckland High Court, having been found guilty on all charges in July after an eight week trial.

"The sentences imposed today reflect the seriousness of offending. Mr Ross and Mr Wehipeihana misled the bank to ensure that Emily Projects Limited obtained the loan facility," SFO director Julie Read said.

"The SFO is committed to investigating and prosecuting this kind of offending to maintain the integrity of the mortgage market for the benefit of honest borrowers."

Two others have been sentenced to 10 months home detention: self-employed consultant Vaughn Stephen Foster, 56, and lawyer Timothy Upton Slack, 56. 

Serious Fraud Office Source: 1 NEWS

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