Augustine Lau sent to jail for two years having littered Auckland properties with portable classrooms, houses and make-shift sewage systems to cram more tenants on to them

Paremoremo property

The notorious property developer, Ee Kuoh Lau, or Augustine Lau, has received a record sentence for breaching the Resource Management Act by illegally modifying properties in Auckland to cram more tenants into them.

Lau has been sentenced to two years imprisonment. The largest previous sentence under the RMA was six months, according to Auckland Council.

Altogether Lau faced charges under the RMA, Building Act and Companies Act, related to six Auckland properties he managed and developed on behalf of investors.

Auckland Council says that at one of the properties in Flat Bush, Lau converted the existing home into two dwellings, and moved two former classrooms and a weatherboard house on to the property. Altogether he created eight dwellings on a property that was only allowed one under the relevant District Plan.

Lau then connected four dwellings to the existing sewerage system, which become overloaded, and another four dwellings to an inadequately constructed system that discharged raw sewage to a slope above a stream that got contaminated.

At another property in Paremoremo, Lau converted the original house into three dwellings, and the garage into another dwelling. He relocated a weatherboard house on to the property, which he divided into five dwellings. Nine dwellings were created on a property that was only allowed one regular and one minor dwelling.

Once again, sewage from a makeshift system was discharged on to the land.

At the third of the most severely damaged properties, 900 cubic metres of earthworks were undertaken without consent. The hole formed at the Otahuhu property was filled with rubbish, debris and material containing asbestos.

In all the instances, Lau ignored various orders issued by the Auckland Council and the courts.

The Auckland District Court judge who heard Lau’s case, Judge Craig Thompson, says: “In terms of the history of non-compliance with warnings by the regulator I have to say that Mr Lau’s position is the worst I have known of. He has completely ignored risks identified by others…

“The offences he has committed in these instances were committed for financial gain. They were premeditated, he knew exactly what he was setting out to do and he knew that what he was doing was unlawful. He continued to do it nevertheless."

Mortgage defaults

In addition to the six properties involved in the case, interest.co.nz is aware of another four properties Lau has managed on behalf of investors, understood to be based overseas.

With Lau having fallen out with these investors, a number started defaulting on their mortgages to banks including Westpac, just under a year ago. Interest.co.nz wrote about this extensively here.

In November 2017, Lau told interest.co.nz the overseas investors had hired private investigators to probe Auckland Council staff.

Lau was in January sentenced to 10 weeks imprisonment for damaging six pohutukawa trees and one totara blocking the view at a property in Waiwera.

Then in May he was declared bankrupt.

Auckland Council confirms it has spent more than $1 million on legal fees related to Lau.

Its regulatory compliance manager Steve Pearce says: “This has been a difficult and significant case that the council has been working on for a number of years.

“We are pleased to have reached this point and received such a significant penalty from the court.

“We generally take a graduated approach to enforcement and will help people to comply where we can, either by giving advice and warnings first or giving them the opportunity to apply for any consents and permits that might be necessary.

“However, in cases such as this, where there are significant adverse effects and an offender who continually ignores the council’s requests, we will use all of the enforcement tools available to us, including pursuing offenders through the courts.”

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32 Comments

Where do you begin with this vile delinquent and his “associates”?

Jail time may prove troublesome for this individual if he continues to act in the manner to which he is accustomed.

I understand he may not be a citizen of NZ – if he manages to survive his incarceration the next step must surely be deportation.

Unfortunately once you accept people in it is very hard to send them back out, (like the ChCh or Dunedin murder cases). There is no Australia like approach in NZ.

To be honest I’m not sure exactly where we stand with permanent residency and deportation – I’ve looked around and came up with this admittedly somewhat dated piece:

“Fraudsters and criminals are among those with permanent residence status who are being deported or facing deportation. In the 2010-11 period, 57 of those with residence permits had their status revoked or had been issued with deportation orders because of criminal offences or failing to meet requirements imposed on their permits. More than 30 have still not been deported because appeal processes have to run their course, and criminal offenders are also usually not deported until they have completed their prison sentence.”

Good on you for doing more footwork. I do not have high hopes in any immigration management in NZ. If they fail to follow immigration rules & visa requirements, even commit crimes in NZ, you can call an MP with a sob story to get many decisions reversed. Complex cases of fraud can easily do this, +1 if you can involve young children in the story.

Some people are pretty stupid. 2 years of his life gone plus the massive capital gains he would have made probably wiped out by destroying the properties.
Mind you the council and government should take some blame here. When you make it so hard to do something by law you have to expect people to break the law. Had it been easier to comply he may have.

That’s a pretty thin defense I think Jimbo.

“Had it been easier to comply he may have.” – no, I don’t think he would have at all.

Jail – then deport.

Far easier to put in a real toilet with sewage then to let it pile up on the site next door and deal with cleaning up the contamination now spread back to your land. For that matter this guy directly perpetrated criminal acts that even a bad property developer would not do. He could have killed some of his tenants, easily would have made them ill, could have poisoned the community and destroyed lasting heritage. No bureaucratic difficulties ever gives you the right to do that. You don't receive a get out of jail free card because you cannot be arsed with following the law. Almost like store theft, you don't get off stealing because it is a bother paying for something. You might as well blame dairy owners for thefts as they are not giving away tobacco.

Lets not forget in was Helen Clark's Government that encouraged property investment, and opened the doors to foreigners buying property here

up
13

FFS

the government encouraging property investment goes back to way before helen clark, it goes all the way back to rogernomics then advanced even more by Ruthanasia.
all we are seeing now is the results of decades of bad policy coming home to roost.
" Rogernomics in action

The Labour Government radically reduced the size and role of the state. It corporatised and restructured government departments, often in preparation for privatisation, and sold some state assets to private investors. It abolished many economic controls and removed farming subsidies.

The government also dismantled the centrally organised welfare system, emphasising instead the role of private and regional welfare providers.

Some people prospered in the new environment. Property speculation took off,"

http://sites.tepapa.govt.nz/sliceofheaven/web/html/rogernomics.html

But let's do forget the last nine years?

Two sides of the same coin Boatman. William Yan bought a passport from Labour MPs (NZ "First"'s Shane Jones was implicated). I'm sure National have sold plenty too.

All of the parties other than the (loony) Green's are doing it. Thanks to the 5% threshold NZ politics is a cartel just like NZ building, NZ supermarkets, NZ banks and NZ fuel.

Isn't he just solving a problem that successive governments with a complacent approach to housing development and a lack of a population growth strategy have caused?

Good he got record jail term. I hope he serves all of it

Squishy you are so right
If NZ could build the necessary affordable homes it needs instead of McMansions crammed together there would be choice for renters & no interest in Mr Laus offerings
This problem is bigger than a very delinquent landlord sent to jail
By the way in the 1980s I remember a west Auckland landlord who delighted in cramming as many rentals as he could legally on his land which looked no better than Mr Laus “development”
NZ authorities have been slow to act on Lau possibly because of fears of being called racist which is untrue

Hawkes Bay median home prices fall 30k !!! Hawkes Bay Today newspaper Thursday July 12 says , Covering March to June this year, the report showed Hawkes Bay and Central Otago Lakes bucked the trend of other regions with a MAJOR quarterly fall in median house-price growth - down 7% or $30,000 in Hawkes Bay.

When the Mainstream Lamestream Fake News Media start to talk like this, you know those famous words of John Wheeler are looking closer by the day. 2018 - THE YEAR OF THE CRASH.

2 years in a minimum security, white collar resort??!

Make him live in one of his long drops for 10 years then we'll consider parole.

One of the houses with the dodgy sewerage systems was just down the road from Paremeremo.. can we keep him in there and send him down the road to hand bail the dodgy sewerage system into the sewerage truck every week?

Lock up this piece of filth.

Really we are far too weak on these people...

The guy and his wife have been ripping dumb kiwi lah off for at least a decade:

He is absolutely taking the piss with this shell companies: "JESUS CC LIMITED", "PAY YOUR DEBT IMMEDIATELY DEBT COLLECTION COMPANY LIMITED", "YOU GOOD COMPANY LIMITED"
https://coys.co.nz/:dirsh?no=5887796&nzbn=9429042184812&name=JESUS+%2820...

Two years (half of which might even be home det') is not enough considering how much damage this psychopath has done to people's lives. He's flown all the money back to who knows where in laundry baskets. Let's say he's hidden at least a million dollars and spends 2 whole years in jail - that's limp wet bus ticket justice. A lot of people would happily go to jail for 2 years if they got a $million or two afterwards.

Judging by the comments nobody is planning to start a fan club. Can't help worrying that if he had a more Britsih sounding name that the vitriol would have been flung with less force. Taking my grandparents names as a sample would there be the same fuss if he had been named "Syd Brown".
Ripping off tenants is not a uniquely new activity nor restricted to landlords with foreign origins. How can NZ prevent this kind saga being repeated? Without making the council more arbitrary and powerful? Maybe a successful Kiwibuild producing a large number of cheap properties - like state housing 50 years ago? A faster legal system is obvious. Some kind of central information exchange - like an AirBnB / Uber recommendation system for all landlords?

What a load of rubbish, as if his name has anything to do with his actions being condemned here. Plenty of polluting farmers named "Syd Brown" getting called out and told it is unacceptable.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oqa9tKarkNA

Why make it a race issue? It may well be true that Asians in NZ more likely to commit fraud.
So what? I'd expect anyone committing a crime to be punished such that further crime is discouraged.
Seize the assets off his relatives as well.

We have an increase in fraud, for whatever reason (elephants, rooms), the punishment should be increased accordingly. If any group of criminals is going to respond to incentives it's the cool calculated fraudsters.

Are you suggesting that we should be less outraged at the guy because he is Asian? That's a little racist don't you think?

I am suggesting that you could be less outraged if you thought he was 'one of us'. Certainly not the specific Asian; just the foreign sounding name. Yes I am implying a mild racism. Not that in the real world mild racism is that important or to be confused with real racism. Just the way average people experiencing a bad driver hang onto any difference they can find so you get 'bloody women drivers', 'bloody pensioner drivers', 'bloody boy racers', 'bloody Asian driver', 'bloody empty-headed blonde', etc where 'bloody' is fairly polite compared to what I hear.
All comes under the category of lack of social cohesion.

Then there are the "Bloody Loonies" who try to find racism in any, and everything.

I think people get pretty p'd off when they find out that someone has clearly not been truthful when they immigrated here. I don't think "fraudster" was ever something that we had such a shortage of that we need to import any. Does not really matter where they come from, but if they come here to take advantage of what is or was, our fairly good natures, it is an insult.

Yes a small apology for bringing race into it - something that really drives me mad when it is used by left-wing commentators trying to close down any debate about our world leading high immigration rate.
To try to explain a little more clearly: certainly I would expect this guy to be critised by the law-abiding commentators on this blog whatever his name but he has been prosecuted and deservedly sent to prison; where I became suspicious was the relish with which many commentators wanted to add further punishment and said 'send him back' (which I agee with - Switzerland doesn't give foreigners a second chance after prison - however NZ does give full citizenship away quickly and cheaply and once a citizen it is hard to revoke).
The focus should be on how to stop this kind of thing happening again - certainly checking character references at INZ would help and quite honestly I cannot see why 'property investor' is a permitted skill for resident visas. The whole point about investors is they take a risk and where does NZ benefit from foreign investors who can easily return home when their investments turn to custard - a bit harder for a Kiwi.

Australians are doing it to NZers.

Xenophobia.

"dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries."

Racist

"a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another."

I don't think Australia falls into any of these categories, its their country and prerogative in NZers do not abide to their laws.

But I do think Eco Bird does, when he says that he would not rent to certain types of races, and another poster posted crime statistics to show particular races have higher statistics in NZ. Forgetting that crime happens in all Countries and is attributed to all races. Crime is not a race thing, its a poverty and educational issue.

Thanks for the definitions and a thoughtful comment. Applying the defintion of Xenophobia: I have no general dislike of all other families but I am prejudiced aginst them if you mean I don't do their washing up and laundry but do both for my own family. Transfer that from family to nation and it makes me and maybe everyone else a xenophobe.

Background, history, social milieu, breeding, vocabulary and IQ score and so on are critical factors. Some sort of super computer could work it out if fed the right data.

Evolution has done a remarkably good job of crafting the human brain to rapidly detect, analyse and interpret subtle and not so subtle visual, audio and other signals to improve survival chances. It is impossible to understand the full complexity of it. Decisions will come down to risk probabilities fundamentally.

No mention of not lodging bonds among his litany of crimes. I guess that means he's not been on here under the moniker Houseworks.