Irish woman to be sent to NZ jail for €860k fraud

Fiona Dillon

AN IRISH woman is to be sentenced next month in New Zealand after being found guilty of offences relating to a $1.4m (€860,000) banking fraud.

It is understood that Susan Bourton, who is originally from Dundalk, left Ireland 20 years ago with her parents and siblings but returned in the late 2000s and set up a number of businesses in the Dundalk area.

However, the 36-year-old from Barleyfield, Kilcurry, was arrested by the New Zealand authorities when she returned to be with her father Gerard who died from cancer in July 2010. She was charged with a number of fraud offences.

She pleaded guilty last November to 25 charges and after months of deliberation, the judge in the New Zealand case found her guilty of the remaining 56 counts of fraud.

The crimes took place between 2001 and 2006 and started with her setting up fictitious accounts while in her role as a business banking manager in Hamilton, New Zealand, and the prosecution alleged she targeted "vulnerable" clients.

The offences grew in scale and complexity, and as the case went through the courts, there were numerous delays as Bourton regularly changed her legal team.

The prosecution said Bourton manipulated bank customers accounts without their knowledge and used fraudulent funding proposals in a bid to purchase Lake Karapiro Lodge, a boutique five-star Edwardian mansion lodge in the Waikato region of New Zealand.


A prosecutor alleged that the Dundalk woman was involved in "a continuum of deliberate and determined dishonesty offending over the best part of a decade".

She said: "It shows a real level of audacity in the way she was behaving, even at that early stage. It reflects her belief in her ability that she could talk her way out of any situation that could arise."

The judge asked the probation service to compile a home detention report but warned Bourton that she would not escape a custodial sentence.