19 Apr 2017

Conman found to be too risky to release

6:45 pm on 19 April 2017

Notorious conman Loizos Michaels talked people into giving him more than $3 million, but he could not convince the Parole Board to let him out of jail.

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Loizos Michaels, not pictured, was sentenced to eight years' jail in 2012 (file). Photo: 123RF

Michaels was sentenced to eight years in jail in 2012, after being found guilty of 30 fraud charges.

He told the Parole Board he was sorry for what he had done, but in a decision released to RNZ today, the board concluded Michaels was deceitful and manipulative.

Michaels conned many people, including two casino executives. He told the pair he was involved in a takeover of Auckland's Sky City Casino.

He initially told Christchurch Casino then-CEO Stephen Lyttelton he would receive a salary that started at $1 million, which increased to an offer of $12m.

But he also insisted Mr Lyttelton show some commitment. Michaels eventually talked Mr Lyttelton into handing over about $1m. When Mr Lyttelton had exhausted his own funds, Michaels encouraged Mr Lyttelton to ask friends and family for money.

Mr Lyttelton's friend - National Party president and richlister businessman Peter Goodfellow - was also approached. He loaned money to Mr Lyttelton, but at a meeting with Michaels at a Viaduct restaurant, Mr Goodfellow grew suspicious and employed a private investigator who found Michaels was a fraud.

Michaels also tried to con All Black great Jonah Lomu, promising him $15m to front a kick boxing competition. Lomu walked away from Michaels when there were no developments.

Judge Christopher Field, who sentenced Michaels, described him as a predator motivated by naked greed.

Despite the result, Michaels continued to blame his victims, and claimed he was the victim of a Serious Fraud Office conspiracy.

He took his case to the Court of Appeal, where his testimony and case were roundly dismissed. The court described Michaels' case as "a sustained ever-developing con".

As recently as two years ago, Michaels told the Parole Board he acknowledged his crimes. At the time, the board said it did not place much weight on his remorse and there was no fundamental change in his attitude.

Today's finding from the board showed that position had not changed.

The board's decision alluded to letters of support for Michaels, but the letter writers were not identified.

It concluded that Michaels remained a risk to the public, describing him as deceitful and manipulative and a "recidivist confidence trickster".

Michaels has fraud convictions in Australia and will be deported there once he is released on parole.

The board said Michaels did not understand his risk factors and did not have a strong release plan.

He is due back before the Parole Board in March next year.

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