Home detention for business manager in $4m property development fraud involving wealthy foreign investor

A business manager has been sentenced to home detention after falsely representing a series of payments worth millions of dollars involving a rich foreign investor and an Auckland property development.

Peng Pian, 38, appeared in the High Court at Auckland this morning to be sentenced after earlier pleading guilty three charges of obtaining by deception from December 2015.

He had defrauded a wealthy international businessman and his partner who applied to immigrate to New Zealand under the investor visa scheme and were considering real estate opportunities.

Pian’s offending – part of an alleged wider scheme – involved a false representation that a $4.4m deposit was required from the investor to purchase property at 133 Clark Rd, Scott Point, Hobsonville.

The Clark Rd property is a series of lots which form part of the residential development known as Hobson Green. According to its website, new four-bedroom, two-level homes, are being sold from $899,000.

Court documents released to the Herald show $2.1m was paid to a bank account in two payments of $1.62m and $480,000 upon the deception.

A further $1.1m was paid under the false representation it was needed to purchase the property, while the third charge Pian faced related to a $900,000 payment.

The court heard today Pian also told the investor an “under the table payment” of $2m was required for him to pay his boss.

The sentencing judge, Justice Simon Moore, said Pian had expressed his remorse to a pre-sentence report writer about his deception of the investor.

“You told the report writer you were greedy and now know you made a mistake,” Justice Moore said.

Pian also claimed to not be aware of the alleged wider offending – involving the use of corporate structure and legal advisers – when he first became entangled and initially simply thought it was a good business opportunity.

Meanwhile, the wealthy investor has been repaid by Pian with interest and did not suffer a significant material loss from the fraud.

“He states that you did pay him back and he has forgiven you,” Justice Moore said. “You have atoned for your offending through your repayment.”

Pian’s repayments also came before the involvement of the police or courts.

Justice Moore said Pian had further promised to help prosecutors with their case against his co-defendants and was granted a 15 per cent discount for his cooperation.

With further deductions for previous good character and his guilty pleas, Pian was ultimately sentenced to eight months’ home detention.

Pian’s co-defendants have maintained their not guilty pleas and are due to stand trial in May next year.

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