Family trust fraud case to court

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Updated May 26 A Hamilton accountant has pleaded guilty to stealing millions of dollars from a family trust – money he allegedly used to build one of the most spectacular homes in the Waikato at Tamahere, as well as buying beach houses and commercial property in Auckland.

Sources say the total involved is at least $6 million, possibly more, reports the Sunday Star-Times

Accountant Gary Soffe has been released on bail and will appear for sentencing on July 21.

Soffe is charged with one count of false accounting and obtaining by deception, and 10 counts of theft by a person in a special relationship. He is due to appear in the Hamilton District Court tomorrow for the first time.

Soffe was the administrator of the trust for many years until his sudden resignation in February. The law firm acting for the trust, McCaw Lewis Chapman, carried out a forensic investigation before confronting Soffe.

Several of Soffe’s properties have been transferred to the trust. These include the rural home at Tamahere south of Hamilton where Soffe still lives with his wife.

Property records show that the family trust, with McCaw Lewis now a trustee, has taken out a $3m mortgage security over the property, which is now on the market.

The mansion sits on 1.4ha and features grand chandeliers, a guest wing, a pool with a pavilion and hydro-slide and an astro-turf tennis court. There is a wine cellar decorated to look like a Medieval dungeon and a media room with bar and projector.

The real estate advertisement says “become lord of the manor…step into the double height foyer, with beautiful inlaid travertine floor, and it is immediately apparent that no expense has been spared in the construction of this stunning mansion”.


Sunday Star-Times
: $6m family trust fraud case