More than $90,000 in $20 notes - allegedly smelling of
cannabis - is at the centre of a Rotorua money laundering
Valentine Barclay Nicholas, 52, and a co-accused, whose name
is suppressed, are each charged with one count of money
laundering between August 30 and September 25, 2006. Their
trial began in the Rotorua District Court yesterday.
The Crown alleges Nicholas had acquired $90,300 of "dirty
money" from the sale of cannabis. He then knowingly engaged
in a money laundering transaction to "clean it up" and buy a
forestry block, it's alleged.
The co-accused is charged with engaging in a money laundering
transaction, being reckless as to whether the money was the
proceeds of serious crime.
Crown prosecutor Chris Macklin said Nicholas gave the cash to
the co-accused, who deposited it into his family trust's
account at National Bank Rotorua on August 30, 2006.
He said the bank tellers noticed the smell of cannabis on the
wads of $20 notes, which were tied with rubber bands.
About September 25 the co-accused wrote cheques from the
account to pay the debts of a forestry block owner who was in
"At the end of the day Mr Nicholas wants a forestry block to
go hunting on," Mr Macklin said.
"Through somebody else's account he pays off the debt of the
company that owns the forestry block . . . to acquire it for
Mr Macklin said the plan was Nicholas would get the land and
"no one would ever be the wiser as to how that had been
During his opening address, Mr Macklin explained to the jury
what money laundering meant.
"Can you imagine having $90,300 in $20 notes?" he said.
"Somebody who's stuck with that quantity of cash that they
can't explain . . . is in a difficult position. They need to
clean it up."
Nicholas and his co-accused had tried to conceal the origin
of that cash, he said.
Mr Macklin said the co-accused told police the $90,300 was
"toy money" he'd earned legitimately through selling property
to mates and "mates of mates" for cash.
He denied being involved in money laundering. Nicholas
"hadn't said anything much" to police but would likely
dispute the money came from dealing cannabis, Mr Macklin
Mr Macklin warned the jury the trial would be complicated.
"It's a tangled web we weave when we try to deceive."
The trial is set down for seven days with the defence
expected to open later in the week.
- By Katie Holland of the Rotorua Daily Post