'Accidental' millionaire's spending spree ends in prison
August 24, 2012 -- Updated 0430 GMT (1230 HKT)
Hui "Leo" Gao went on the run with his girlfriend after discovering a banking error in April 2009.
- New Zealand's 'accidental millionaire' jailed for bank account theft
- Hui "Leo" Gao sentenced to four years, seven months after global manhunt
- Gao's girlfriend Kara Hurring sentenced to nine months' home detention
- Couple fled NZ after bank error gave Gao access to NZ$10 million
(CNN) -- A New Zealand gas station owner turned international fugitive has been sentenced to four years and seven months in prison after stealing millions of dollars accidentally deposited into his bank account.
Hui "Leo" Gao, dubbed the "accidental millionaire," sparked a global manhunt after fleeing New Zealand with his girlfriend Kara Hurring in April 2009.
Hurring was sentenced to nine months' home detention for her part in the heist, according to CNN affiliate TV NZ. The 33-year-old was also ordered to pay back $9,615 (NZ$11,830) at the rate of $60 (NZ$75) a week, the broadcaster said.
Gao's journey from the forecourt to fugitive began in April 2009 when Australian bank Westpac accidentally gave him access to $7 million (NZ$10 million).
Gao had applied for overdraft financing for the gas station he co-owned with his mother in Rotorua, New Zealand, court documents said.
The bank approved his application with a $100,000 limit, however while inputting the figure a bank employee made a clerical error and gave him access to 100 times the intended amount.
'Accidental millionaire' awaits trial
Gao discovered the error the next day and told his girlfriend, Kara Hurring that he was "f—ing rich" and had millions of dollars, court documents said.
In less than one month, the couple withdrew $6.8M from Gao's bank account and transferred it to accounts in Hong Kong and China.
In late April 2009, Gao fled to Hong Kong where he was joined a few days later by Hurring. Before leaving New Zealand, the couple had been living together in Rotorua with Hurring's six-year-old daughter, court documents showed.
In early May, the bank became aware of the error and alerted authorities who issued an Interpol alert for the missing couple.
Hurring spent almost two years on the run before returning to New Zealand in February 2011 to renew her daughter's passport, TV NZ reported. In May, she was found guilty of 28 counts of theft and two counts of money laundering, according to court records.
Gao was arrested in Hong Kong in September 2011 and extradited to New Zealand two months later. In June, he pleaded guilty to seven charges of theft.
Westpac, the Australian bank, recovered about $2.9M from the couple's New Zealand accounts, but has yet to recoup the remaining $3.8M. Crown Prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch told the court the bank was continuing to dedicate considerable resource to recovering the stolen money, TV NZ said.
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
Today's five most popular stories