A FRAUDSTER who still owes millions of dollars will be freed from jail to live with a prominent Christchurch businessman in his Banks Peninsular mansion.
Michael Andrew Swann, 51, will be paroled to Alasdair Cassels’ Governors Bay property, valued at about $1.35 million.
The home has an indoor pool, harbour views and is surrounded by a vineyard.
Mr Cassels confirmed yesterday that Swann would be living with him and his family, but only for a short time.
He said he received a call for help from Swann, who needed a place to stay after the Parole Board ruled another proposed address was unsuitable.
Mr Cassels first met Swann many years ago, but did not consider him a close friend. “The guy’s served his time and he’s trying to get himself rehabilitated – trying to get himself back into the workforce. Why should he be cast on the rubbish heap?”
Swann will be employed by a Christchurch company doing engineering and biotech work.
Swann’s release from Christchurch Men’s Prison comes after he has served less than half of his jail sentence. His release date is July 31.
Swann and his associate, Kerry Harford, were found guilty in 2008 of defrauding the then–Otago District Health Board of about $16.9m by invoicing the board for bogus computer-related services.
Swann, the health board IT manager at the time, was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years’ jail with a non-parole period of four and-a-half years. He was ordered to repay the Crown $9.5m.
A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesperson said yesterday that only $3.2m had been recovered through the sale of seized assets, but the case “remains open”.
Swann has acknowledged it is unlikely he will ever be able to repay the sum in full.
Former health board chairman Richard Thomson, who was sacked by Health Minister Tony Ryall after Swann was sentenced, said he was angry the “sociopath” would be released at his first attempt at parole.
Mr Thomson, now a Southern District Health Board member and a Dunedin city councillor, said Swann still refused to co-operate with the district health board over outstanding legal matters.
His refusal to sign a document continued to cost it money.
“He’s a nasty piece of work,” Mr Thomson said.
Swann had hoped to live at his boss’ address, but the Parole Board was concerned at the potential for “collusion”.
Swann appeared before the Parole Board again last month.
A psychologist’s report assessed Swann as at low risk of reoffending and prison staff supported him in letters to the board.
As part of his release conditions, he is not to be involved in the oversight of any business, or handle another person’s money or invoices relating to any business or commercial enterprise.
The Dominion Post. Tuseday, July 16, 2013, p. A2
Story by Blair Ensor
1. SPCS Report: 11/11/2010
2. Convicted fraudster Swann freed
by Rosie Manins. 16 July 2013
Former ODHB chairman Richard Thomson said Swann’s release was not a surprise, but it was disappointing. He said Swann was not remorseful and the only lesson he had learned was not to get caught.
”My understanding is he will be going to live in a property that most of us can only dream about. And he will be doing so despite continuing to cause the population of Otago and Southland lost health opportunities as a result of his refusal during his prison term to engage with the board.”
Mr Thomson was board chairman for part of the time when Swann’s fraud occurred and consequently was sacked from that position in 2009 by Health Minister Tony Ryall. He remains a member of the Southern District Health Board.
Mr Thomson said Swann had caused the board ongoing legal costs but could have prevented the extra expense ”with a signature and at no cost to himself”.
”I believe he’s done that deliberately, and I find it extraordinary the parole board has either not sought to establish whether he has co-operated in any way, or that the parole board has not considered his failure to do so indicative of his lack of remorse.
”The primary issue is whether this man co-operated to put right what he did that was wrong and I know, but am not at liberty to detail, that he has failed to do so.
”That to me is indicative of both his personality and of his complete absence of remorse,” Mr Thomson said.