Zealand's BMX golden girl Sarah Walker was on the radar of a
conman -- now wanted by police -- who was keen to manage the
Paul Bennett, 54, and wife Simone Wright, 40, are at the
centre of a major police alert after a Christchurch
millionaire alleged the couple emptied his bank accounts of
Police admit they have no idea where the couple are but the
Herald on Sunday can reveal the pair have evaded capture from
New Zealand authorities on serious charges for the past six
Police and Customs will not say how the two have managed to
skip between countries without raising the suspicions of
The pair have smooth-talked their way around the world,
including into the cockpit of the Hollywood A-lister Russell
Crowe's private helicopter.
When police issued an alert in 2008, the couple were wanted
on charges including theft and serious fraud in Australia and
New Zealand, and an alleged sex assault on a young girl in
The motocross community is also fuming after allegedly losing
around $100,000 to the self-styled "team manager".
After an absence of six years, Morrinsville-born Bennett and
his TV personality wife returned to New Zealand with new
identities, selling Rolex watches on TradeMe and brokering
The Herald on Sunday was told Bennett, using another alias,
tried to lure Walker into his management fold in 2008 when
she was on the cusp of becoming famous.
Motocross publicist Alan Henderson, who shared an office with
Bennett for six months, said the Olympian met Bennett to
discuss a potential management deal.
"This was in 2008 and she was looking at the big picture.
"It fell over because he disappeared suddenly in the dead of
night with his wife from his Northcote townhouse."
Walker could not be reached for comment.
Henderson claims some of the sport's elite lost tens of
thousands of dollars in fees paid to Bennett who promised to
secure positions in high profile European teams, which never
"It amazes me how the police have never managed to pick him
Henderson said many people were highly embarrassed after they
were left out of pocket by the manager they simply knew as
He understood Bennett and his partner left New Zealand by
For one wealthy businessman, meeting the couple -- who he
knew as Dave and Sarah Kite -- has allegedly left him
substantially out of pocket.
The Christchurch businessman, who does not want to be
identified, says he was swindled to the tune of $400,000,
including $100,000 in helicopter deals and another $250,000,
comprising business income and an insurance payout, which was
allegedly fraudulently diverted.
Said the duped millionaire: "We thought people were late
payers, which is a bit unusual and I always thought the
insurance was just being dragged out."
Instead it is alleged Bennett opened an account with the ASB
Bank and began trading as the businessman's company.
ASB spokesman Christian May confirmed the bank was involved
in a police investigation.
"We are aware of this case which is now in the hands of the
police. We are doing everything we can to assist the police
with their investigation but, in the circumstances, we are
unable to make any further comment," May said.
The businessman said the couple used a high-end online watch
store to lure prospective wealthy targets.
He said Bennett came across as a likeable, knowledgeable man
and was very convincing.
"He talked himself up about flying important people around.
He's a bit of a name dropper and liked to talk about flying
important film stars and Formula One racing drivers around
A Customs spokesperson said people on legitimate passports
were able to move freely across borders unless police placed
an alert on their system.
- Lynley Bilby of the Herald on Sunday