Queenstown developer accused of international swindle

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A Queenstown property developer faces a raft of fraud charges after allegedly skimming money from international sales.

Kerry Colin Christian, 55, allegedly swindled New Zealand investors buying property in the United States.

Christian was arrested in Queenstown on Friday by police and appeared in the town’s district court yesterday (Monday), charged with 10 fraud-related offences totalling more than $72,000.

Police allege he deliberately overstated the price of a property in Arizona, used documents to gain a financial advantage and made false statements.

Christian was remanded on bail without plea by Judge John Strettell.

Duty solicitor Sonia Vidal initially sought interim name suppression for Christian while he advised his own counsel in Rotorua.

Vidal says Christian is self-employed and has six employees.

“He operates an international company, his credibility is extremely important.”

But Judge Strettell says that is the “very reason” why he was hesitant to grant the application.

“The [alleged] deceptions have arisen as a result of that international company being used to cause that loss.

“I would need some sort of undertaking … that he wouldn’t operate in the meantime if I was to give him an interim name suppression order, with an indication it would be unlikely I would extend that past the first remand date.”

After a brief stand down Vidal says Christian no longer wished to advance the application.

Christian was bailed to reappear in the Queenstown District Court on December 2 and required to surrender his passport, not apply for any international travel documents and not to contact eight people mentioned in the police report.

The Companies Office shows Christian is or has been a director or shareholder of 24 companies, 19 of which have been struck off.

Of the remainder, three are in the process of being removed from the Register of Companies and one is overdue in its obligation to file an annual return and therefore in danger of being removed from the register.

Just one company, Classic Wine Tours Ltd, incorporated in April last year, of which Christian is the sole director, remains operating.

The charges name US firm USA Property Turnkey Solutions LLC.

They relate to alleged offending between July 2012 and May this year in Wanaka, Wellington, Whangarei and Tauranga.

Christian is charged with:

– unlawfully causing a loss of US$25,000 to Lindsay Richards by deliberately overstating the purchase price of a property in Arizona, US, between July 30 and October 16, 2012;

– receiving US$24,500 by failing to account to Lindsay Richards, at Tauranga on October 16, 2012

– on or about July 10, 2012 at Whangarei dishonestly using a US Property Turnkey Solutions LLC order form;

– receiving US$6343 by failing to account to Dirk Ziebert, on or about August 22 at Whangarei

– dealing with US$7346 from Ziebert not in accordance with requirements, on or about March 6 at Whangarei

– dishonestly using a US Property Turnkey Solutions LLC order form at Wellington, on or about September 20, 2012;

– on or about October 25, 2012 at Wellington misusing a settlement statement for a property in Memphis, US

– on or about November 20, 2012 misusing a settlement statement for a second property in Memphis

– and two charges of making false declarations to notary public David Brent in Wanaka, on May 24 this year.

The USA Property Turnkey Solutions LLC website says it is a joint venture between Buy Low AZ, based in Phoenix, Arizona, and How2 – Christian’s company – based in Queenstown.

The website says the NZ USA Property Turnkey Solutions LLC company was established to “assist individuals wishing to invest in the US property market”, and had partnered with “the American team” to form a new company.

That company provided New Zealand investors with foreclosure properties in the United States which provided cash flow “in a safe environment”.

– Otago Daily Times