Page last updated at 03:23 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 04:23 UK

NZ hunts accidental millionaires

A NZ$100 banknote (image from NZ Reserve Bank website)
Some of the money was recovered

Police in New Zealand are searching for a couple who disappeared after a banking blunder deposited NZ$10m (£3.9m, US$6m) in their account.

The couple had applied for a NZ$10,000 overdraft but received NZ$10m in their business account instead, part of which they withdrew, local media report.

They are said to have run a service station in Rotorua, North Island.

Police believe the couple have left the country and Interpol has been alerted for assistance.


The deposit was made by the Australian bank Westpac, which has about 10 million customers.

Police said that part of the money had been recovered, without specifying the amount.

"The individuals associated with this account are believed to have left New Zealand and police [are] working through Interpol to locate those individuals," said Detective Senior Sergeant David Harvey of New Zealand Police.

"Westpac Bank has recovered some of the money which had been inappropriately withdrawn."

£3.9m is a lot of dosh, and even the most honest person would be tempted, especially when the 'victim' is a bank.
Sally, Hullbridge

Westpac media relations manager Craig Dowling said the bank was "pursuing vigorous criminal and civil action to recover a sum of money stolen".

Adding that the incident had prompted a review of how it had occurred, he said he would not comment on the specifics of the case due to the police investigation and court actions requiring confidentiality.

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