Leo Gao tells Edward Gay of the moment he discovered an extra $10 million in his bank account.
The vast temptation of struggling small business owner Hui 'Leo' Gao proved too much to ignore.
Speaking from his Auckland home the day before being jailed, the so-called 'runaway millionaire' recalled the moment he logged into his internet bank account to find a string of zeroes.
He was working 16-hour shifts to keep the doors open at his BP petrol station in Rotorua and had applied for a $100,000 overdraft.
Instead, the bank transferred $10 million after a clerk put the decimal point in the wrong place.
"A lot of people say: 'You're lucky, like winning the lottery'. I say: 'Nothing worse could happen to you'."
Gao transferred almost $6.8m to other accounts. Almost $3.8m is still missing. He was sentenced to four years and seven months in prison when he appeared at the Rotorua District Court yesterday after earlier admitting seven charges of theft.
His lawyer Ron Mansfield told the court that some say the "greatest temptation" was that faced by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
"But these are modern times and for a man trying to keep a small business open, $10m placed in his bank account was a very big temptation."
Gao was philosophical as he admitted he had made a mistake and had been preparing for prison.
The 32 year-old has already spent time in a Hong Kong jail and Auckland prison. While awaiting sentence at home he was wearing an electronic bracelet that allowed authorities to monitor him.
"In the first few months, I was not even able to see my partner. I was away from my son for the first few months on electronically monitored bail."
Gao avoided questions about the current nature of his relationship with Kara Hurring, the mother of his child who joined him on the run in China.
A friend - Ruth LeVaillant - said she understood the couple were now no more than close friends who took care of each other.
However, Gao repeatedly expressed sorrow at having involved Hurring in the crime.
"It's all my fault. I am regretful for dragging her and the family into this.
"Kara's family are still blaming me for putting her through all the trouble ... I just feel it shouldn't be her that suffers for my mistake."
The couple's 19-month-old son would have had little idea what his father was going through as he played with the family Labrador-cross Xiaohei in the front yard of their modest brick and tile home in Avondale, a Blues rugby flag flying from the corner.
He stumbled with his words as he told how his only hope was that he could serve his prison term in Auckland so his son can visit.
"I have only had the last six months to spend with him," Gao said. "Spending time with my son, that's more valuable than anything else ... being there for his growing up."
Gao said prison life would be hard.
"I don't even speak their language."
On his first day in prison in New Zealand he was approached by a man who told him Gao had accused him of shoplifting at his petrol station.
And he laughed as he recalled meeting another man who admitted breaking into the business after Gao fled the country.
The man said he took the petrol station's safe, the office desk and cigarettes to sell on the black market.
Gao said the man told him the safe took three men to carry.
"They smashed the whole door down and drove the back of the car into the shop."
Gao said the man has had the safe in his garage for two years and has been unable to get into it.
"He turned out to be a good friend. He even asked me the combination of the safe."
Gao arrived in New Zealand aged 21 unable to speak English. He worked in restaurants with his brother and as a carpenter before meeting Hurring in 2003.
Four years later they left Auckland for Rotorua where Gao opened his service station.
The first two years went well, but by April 2009 the recession had hit and another BP outlet opened just a few hundred metres down the road. The money started drying up.
The $100,000 overdraft from Westpac was meant to see him through but when the $10m came through, Gao panicked.
According to the police summary of facts, a flatmate overheard him yelling "f***ing rich ..." after he checked his account online.
Gao then set about transferring millions from his business account to personal accounts in his name and those of his parents.
A total of $6.78m was transferred. Some went through remittance companies to accounts in China and Hong Kong.
Gao also transferred more than $347,000 to casino accounts in the Asian gambling capital of Macau before fleeing New Zealand.
Hurring followed days later with her daughter and opened a "player's account" at a Macau casino.
A further $2.18m was later transferred to the same casino. This time the "player's account" was in the name of Gao's father, Alex Wang.
The couple's disappearance sparked an international manhunt involving Interpol and other overseas agencies.
But far from enjoying the high life, Gao said his two and half years on the run was "not really pleasant" - he was paranoid and worrying the whole time.
He was arrested last September when he tried to cross from mainland China to Hong Kong, triggering an Interpol alert.
Gao did not oppose being extradited and was returned to New Zealand just before Christmas in the company of police.
"That's why I came back to New Zealand ... Because I wanted to face the charges. I knew it was time."
Hurring chose to fight the charges after returning to New Zealand voluntarily. Following a trial at Rotorua District Court in May, she was found guilty of 25 counts of theft, three of attempting to dishonestly use documents and two of money laundering.
But while the police and Westpac have been able to recover some of the money, almost $3.8m is outstanding - and Gao repeatedly refused to say what had happened to it.
"All I can say is I'm not in a position to pay the reparations."
He said he has lost all the assets he built up over seven years, including two properties in Auckland, one in Rotorua and his petrol station.
Outside court, Mr Mansfield was asked about the missing millions.
He too said Gao was "not in a position to pay reparations" and confirmed he would be appealing against his sentence.
Crown prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch told the court Gao had not cooperated with authorities' efforts to find the money and could therefore not be sorry for what he had done.
It was one of the points raised by Judge Phillip Cooper who described Gao as opportunistic.
"I note that $3.8m is still outstanding and there is no explanation for that."
However, he reduced Gao's sentence to recognise the early guilty plea and the time he had already served in prison.
Hurring was sentenced to nine months of home detention. Judge Cooper said her role had been "significantly less" and she needed to look after her two children. She also has daughter from a previous relationship. He ordered her to pay reparations of $75 a week for the $11,800 that she had spent in New Zealand before fleeing overseas.
Her lawyer Simon Lance told the court his client had had not been extravagant and one of the charges related to a $14 McDonalds meal.
"She probably got a Big Mac Combo and a Happy Meal but no apple pie."
He said Hurring's role was secondary and pointed out that she returned to New Zealand voluntarily.
Outside court Hurring told media that she was relieved the affair was over.
After fielding more questions about where the missing money was, she left.
"Don't even bother going there because its got nothing to do with me."
Ms LeVaillant said she was relieved Hurring will get time with her children.
She said Hurring had spoken to her about that very point, moments before she was sentenced.
"They're her babies and it takes a mother's heart. It's a mother's highest calling to look after her children and she's a good mother."