Waikato woman released from prison after stealing from casino

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
SkyCity bans junkets immediately

A New Zealand woman who stole more than $2.7 million from a Hamilton casino has been released on parole.

Stuff reports that Waikato woman Tessa Grant took about $1.99 million from SkyCity Entertainment Group and $795,000 from Waikato Diocesan School for Girls to pay for jewellery, a property and equestrian-related expenses.

Once discovered, she pleaded guilty to fraud charges and was sentenced in September 2017 to seven years and eight months in prison.

In 2018, that was reduced to six years.

Grant was denied parole in her first appearance last September, but reappeared before the parole board on February 3.

The parole board report states it was made clear that the main cause of Grant’s offending was greed.

The board took into account a variety of information before it, including oral submissions by counsel, a board report and a full psychological report.

While in prison, Grant was described as consistently positive, she attended the Kowhiritanga Programme, which targets the attitudes and behaviours that contributed to their offending and teaches skills and new ways of thinking.

The board noted that Grant has paid reparation in full to both Waikato Diocesan and SkyCity.

Grant took money from SkyCity by methods including paying personal expenses with company cheques, taking petty cash and falsifying invoices.

About $425,000 of the money went into a horse arena at her property and another $477,000 on equestrian-related expenses.

The offending began in late 2008 and still hadn’t been discovered when she left the company in July 2014.

She then moved to Waikato Diocesan where her offending included altering invoices “and making resulting payments to herself” and spending on her school credit card.

The money went on items including a Hamilton property worth about $900,000 and $55,900 of jewellery and she resigned before an employment investigation could be finished.

The parole board admitted there will always be an element of risk, however it did not believe Grant presented an undue risk to the safety of the community and authorised her release.

Grant is not permitted to enter the premises of SkyCity Hamilton or Waikato Diocesan School.

Hunt is on for South Korean casino employee accused of stealing millions

A former employee is being chased by South Korean police, accused of stealing US$13.4 million from a local casino.

Asgam reported in February that authorities in Jeju are continuing to hunt for the former Landing Casino employee, but have said that even if they find her, there is no guarantee the casino’s operator will have its funds returned.

According to a report, Jeju’s provincial police agency is not only investigating the whereabouts of the employee but also whether Landing is entitled to get its money back.

Under South Korea’s Article 8 of the Act on the Concealment of Crime Profits and Punishment Act, all criminal proceeds and property derived from crime profits related to criminal activities, and property obtained from compensation for criminal activities are subject to confiscation.

They can only be returned to the claimant pending the judgement of the court following prosecution of the accused, but if identified as criminal funds, are to be redirected to the national treasury instead.

A famous South Koeran case from 2011 was cited, where US$9.8 million was found buried under a garlic field and eventually confiscated after being found to be the proceeds of an internet gambling operation.

Landing Casino has already stated that the US$11.6 million in stolen funds already recovered by Jeju police are designated as operating funds of its parent, Landing International Development.

The funds are currently being held in a bank designated by the National Police Agency.

Police last month arrested one of three people alleged to be involved in the theft – a man in his 30s of Korean descent who is believed to have assisted the main suspects.

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