Three people convicted over $54 million Auckland and Hamilton home loan fraud

The Serious Fraud Office says three people have been convicted over a $54m mortgage fraud scheme in Auckland.

Developer Kang Xu, aka Yan (Jenny) Zhang, suspended lawyer Gang (Richard) Chen and former bank employee Zongliang (Charly) Jiang were all convicted for playing a part in the scheme.

Another bank employee was also involved, but managed to leave the country in 2015.

The scheme involved 110 separate property transactions in Auckland and Hamilton, with the end goal being to obtain cheaper lending for a commercial property development.

Xu's husband Kang (Thomas) Huang also pleaded guilty to his part in the scheme before the three-month trial, and was sentenced to four years and seven months imprisonment in February.

SFO Director Julie Read said the scheme required "a high level of calculation and collaboration".

"The banks were misled in a number of respects including the financial position of the purported borrowers and the level of associated risk," she said.

Chen and Jiang have been remanded in custody while Xu has been remanded on bail - they will be sentenced later this year.

Justice Source: 1 NEWS

Junior sport in Christchurch enduring widespread wet-weather cancellations despite field upgrades

There will be widespread junior sports cancellations in Christchurch for the second weekend in a row despite many sports facilities being upgraded in the city to withstand wet weather.

Sporting fields around Christchurch were already saturated with two-thirds of the city's total rain from last year already having fallen by June, MetService meteorologist Tom Bell told the Christchurch Press.

The airport in Christchurch already had 529.4mm of rain this year after 803.4 millimetres in total last year.

Council head of parks Andrew Rutledge said fields were already "saturated" and play will be limited this week, as it was last weekend, despite predicted fine weather tomorrow.

He said it was going to be a "very challenging season".

Eight facilities, St Albans Park, Sydenham Park, Wainoni Park, Leslie Park, Tulett Park, Papanui Domain, Hospital Corner and Carlton Mill Corner, were upgraded last year to cope better with wet weather.

Despite the upgrades, Sydenham Park, Wainoni Park, Leslie Park, Tulett Park, Papanui Domain have been closed recently.

Canterbury Rugby Union, Canterbury Rugby League and Mainland Football were working with the council on plans to minimise play on the fields.

The decision on what games will be cancelled will be made by individual codes with players to check with their association if they are uncertain. 

The corner of a Rugby Field in Tawa, New Zealand


Māori Development Minister orders investigation into Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board

The Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board is being investigated at the request of Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who had received a range of complaints.

Michael Heron QC will lead the investigation into the governance and management of the trust and into the 2017 triennial elections of the board.

"In my capacity as Minister for Māori Development I have received a range of complaints and requests from a number of beneficiaries for an investigation into the Board," Minister Mahuta said.

"I am committed to having this investigation happen in a timely and efficient manner so that the people of Te Whakatōhea can find a resolution and are able to progress with their aspirations for the future," she said.

Mr Heron will report back to the minister in August, at which time Mahuta can assess the options.

The Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board was formed in 1952 and administers its assets for member benefits, including the promotion of health, social and economic welfare as well as education and vocational training.

Nanaia Mahuta at Ratana Pa being interviewed by Te Karere
Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta ordered the investigation. Source: Te Karere