New Zealand: Chef gambles away bank error

gaming machine

A chef in New Zealand gambled away a small fortune after a bank error deposited tens of thousands of dollars into his account, it's been reported.

Mehdi Soheili admitted to spending more than NZ$100,000 in a week after the bank transferred more than NZ$140,000 (US$113,000; £69,000) into his account by mistake, the New Zealand Herald reports. According to Mr Soheili's lawyer, he gambled the money away in "an unfortunate crime of opportunity". The bank, whose name was suppressed by the court, has turned Mr Soheili's debt into a large overdraft, which he is slowly repaying, Auckland Now says.

Blaming the man's gambling addiction, defence lawyer Shannon Withers said that Mr Soheili's "unwise series of decisions" would "impact upon his future for a considerable amount of time". Suggesting that a custodial sentence was possible, and noting that the debt would take 13 years to repay at its current rate, Judge David Wilson, QC, adjourned sentencing until November.

Gambling addiction remains an issue in New Zealand where government figures suggest that up to 60,000 people - 1.8% of the adult population - have a problem. A Department of Internal Affairs report says that access to gaming machines (commonly known as "pokies") is the most likely cause of the problem.

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