Loizos Michaels in 2010. Photo from NZ Herald/Brett Phibbs
An alleged conman told a multiple sclerosis sufferer that
he would be cured if he handed over thousands of dollars in
"goodwill'' money to travel to a clinic in Cyprus, a court has
Australian man Philip Oates made his way into the witness box
with the help of crutches and told Auckland District Court
today how Loizos Michaels spoke of the possibility of a cure.
"He kept telling me that he had a friend in Cyprus, a doctor
who was leading research in MS.''
Michaels has denied 31 Serious Fraud Office charges of
deception connected to an alleged $3 million fraud.
Mr Oates told the court he had already paid Michaels a total
of $131,000 for shares in a film studio on Australia's east
Coast he headed in 2004.
He said Michaels asked him to hand over $11,000 to show
"goodwill'' to the doctors in Cyprus who would cure him. But
Mr Oates was already heavily in debt and was told by his bank
that he could only have $8000.
"He was going to fly me to Cyprus, they were going to put me
through a clinic ... they were going to cure me.''
At one point, Michaels told Mr Oates to go home and pack his
bags because they were leaving for Cyprus in the next couple
"We sat at home for a week and didn't hear anything.''
The trip never happened and despite repeated promises that
the doctors were coming to Australia, Mr Oates was left with
his debilitating central nervous system disorder and a
Mr Oates said he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in
2001 and had to sell his business a short time later.
He had invested about $16,000 in a small stunt training
facility with friends who later met Michaels.
Mr Oates said Michaels spoke of links to the Japanese
organised criminal group the Yakuza and the Melbourne
Michaels took charge of the business, offered Mr Oates a
position as director for $400,000 and promised to pay the
company's bills and the rent.
He said the company ended up being evicted from the address
but Michaels said he would buy the premises. The deal never
There was also a film studio company created called Salt
Water Films which was to be listed on the European stock
exchange. It was into this scheme that Mr Oates paid $81,000
from the sale of his business and a further $50,000 from his
Mr Oates said Michaels had cheques written out to him to
repay the debt but they all bounced.
"He kept saying: 'It's under control, the money is
forthcoming, you will receive it shortly'.''
On one occasion he was with Michaels in Cairns when Michaels
received three cash payments from another alleged victim.
"He spent the day in the casino and he blew the whole lot.''
Mr Oates is yet to be cross-examined by Michaels' lawyer
The trial continues.