Leo Gao may well be on a nice little earner, while he cools his heels in the slammer (although if this be so, he is keeping quiet about it).
For starters, we taxpayers will be housing and feeding him for the next few years.
Meanwhile – depending on the whereabouts of a few million missing dollars and the prudence with which it has been invested – he may well be making a mint from the missing lolly.
According to the NZ Herald (here), if that money – a sum of $3.8 million – were to sit in a term account at 3 per cent for Gao’s entire term of four years and seven months, it would earn an extra $540,000 by the time he is released in early 2017.
Gao was banged up yesterday without revealing what has happened to the outstanding $3.8 million.
The Herald today carries an interview with the felon who – constituents might remember – showed a great deal of get-up-and-Gao and very promptly got up and went a few years ago when his bank deposited much more dosh in his account than he had asked for.
As the Herald tells it –
More than three years after disappearing with his girlfriend at the time, Kara Hurring, after a banking blooper put $10 million into his account, Gao has spoken out and admitted temptation proved too much as he struggled financially.
In an hour-long interview with APNZ the day before he was sentenced, Gao revealed:
* How he will miss his 19-month-old son growing up.
* His regret at dragging Hurring into the crime.
* Why the money was the worst thing that ever happened to him.
But the 32-year-old isn’t saying what has happened to $3.8 million that has never been recovered.
“All I can say is I’m not in a position to pay the reparations.”
Sentencing Gao in Rotorua District Court yesterday, Judge Phillip Cooper noted the size of the missing sum and the absence of an explanation for it.
Hurring was sentenced to nine months of home detention.
Judge Cooper said her role had been “significantly less” than Gao’s and she needed to look after her two children.
He ordered her to pay reparations of $75 a week for the $11,800 that she had spent in New Zealand before fleeing overseas.
Rotorua area commander Inspector Bruce Horne said the outcome of the international manhunt for the runaway pair “sends a clear message to anyone contemplating fleeing NZ after committing a serious crime that NZ police will not give up.”
Maybe they don’t.
But the missing boodle in this case does suggest crime pays.
Alf’s latest check on things of an income nature (here) showed average household incomes throughout New Zealand have increased to $79,000, but the median household income has fallen.
A TV3 item explains the difference?
An average can be skewed by very high figures. So if the top 10 percent earned more while everyone else stayed the same, the average would increase.
But the median simply measures the middle, so for it to drop suggests more people are earning less.
$62,853 – half of all New Zealand households earn more than that, half earn less.
So let’s suppose Gao and Hurring go halves in the missing $3.8 million.
That’s $1.9 million each.
Divide that by the number of years he serves – and he is unlikely to serve the full term – and it’s not bad money.
Plus the interest, of course.
Backbenchers like Alf nowadays are paid a base salary of $141,800, up from $134,800 before the latest rise.
The prime minister’s salary rose to $411,510.
The bloody news media at the time of the decision to raise our salaries noted (here) that the $7000 rise in backbencher pay would take a fulltime worker on the minimum wage three months to earn.
Let’s see if they do similar sums with Gao and his ill-gotten gains.
And let’s wonder why stiffer sentences weren’t dished out to Gao and Hurring, to take into account the magnitude of the outstanding sum.