24 Apr 2009

Bank manager arrested over Kiri Te Kanawa swindle

10:08 am on 24 April 2009

A bank manager in the United States has appeared in court charged with embezzling more than $US650,000 from Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

Sokvoeun Sou, 27, a branch manager at the Bank of Alameda in California, was arrested on Tuesday, police say.

The bank first became suspicious in May last year, when it was noticed large withdrawals were being made from a retirement fund belonging to the New Zealand singer.

Each was in in the form of a bank cheque, which investigators say were then paid into Ms Sou's family bank accounts and finally transferred back into her own account. Police say Ms Sou acted alone.

An Alameda Police Department spokesperson, Detective Greg Ella, told Morning Report the manager has confessed, and the bank has fully reimbursed Dame Kiri.

San Jose Mercury News reporter Peter Hegarty says Ms Sou faces five forgery charges and one embezzlement charge.

She remains in custody after a brief court appearance and will have a bail hearing in a few days.

A spokesperson for Dame Kiri says she has learnt of the arrest, but as it is a legal matter, she can make no further comment.