A Tauranga man who claimed he had amassed a fortune overseas and travelled throughout New Zealand pretending to live the high life has been found guilty of multiple fraud charges after fooling people into thinking he could afford to buy millions of dollars worth of goods and luxury vehicles.
Christian John Glennie's crime spree also saw him fleece a man and woman from South Auckland out of $132,238 on the promise that all the funds would be repaid to them once his millions were "freed up from overseas".
During a judge-alone trial presided over by Judge John MacDonald last month, Glennie, 68, denied four counts of knowingly causing loss by deception, 33 counts of obtaining by deception and one count each of incurring a debt by deception and converting a motor vehicle.
Judge MacDonald, who discharged Glennie on one count of causing loss by deception during the trial, released his written judgment in relation to the other charges yesterday.
He found Glennie guilty of 36 charges, and acquitted him of two of the other counts of knowingly causing loss by deception in relation to his offer to buy a $3 million farm property in Martinborough in 2005 and a $1.6 million launch in 2007.
Glennie's crime spree involved him entering into various contracts with car and farm machinery dealers, a motelier, and borrowing money from the two South Auckland residents after telling them he had amassed a fortune through money deals, mining interests and/or overseas lottery wins. The money was allegedly held in banks in the Netherlands and New York.
He presented various bogus documents as evidence of his financial status and also claimed US$36 million ($41.3 million) was owed to him from money trading in America. He was involved in fighting a court case in London trying to get that money released and told the South Auckland victims he wanted to borrow the money to pay his Nigerian-based lawyer to get it "freed up from overseas".
Glennie's offending also included taking possession of a $61,875 Isuzu truck from a Christchurch dealer in September 2006 which had to be repossessed due to non-payment, and between September 2001 and October 2007 he signed up to buy at least 20 vehicles, including two Nissan utilities and a new Audi Q7 from Bay Nissan Tauranga valued at total of $240,000.
He was also lent a $32,000 Nissan Tiida by Bay Nissan which was repossessed, and in January 2009 he offered to buy two farm bikes valued at $19,490 from a Taumarunui dealer.
During his trial Glennie told the judge he believed documents sent to him by email about the money he was owed were genuine and denied other documents he received were part of any scam.
He claimed to have received a MasterCard loaded with the $20 million after winning his overseas court case and just needed to obtain a PIN number from his lawyer to access the funds.
In his written judgment, Judge McDonald said in the end the case came down to Glennie's intentions and undoubtedly he had deceived the complainants involved.
He had also heard from a number of other witnesses who gave "propensity" evidence and while no charges emanated in relation to those people, it showed a continuing pattern of similar conduct dating back to 2005.
"Almost without exception the complainants and other witnesses who gave evidence were taken in by the accused's powers of persuasion and they believed his claims that he was awaiting substantial funds from overseas. Without question he told a convincing tale," he said.
Judge McDonald said he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Glennie had caused losses by falsely representing his position in relation to his ability to settle transactions he entered into and "at very least he was reckless".
Glennie is due to be sentenced next month.