A fraudster who pretended to be a prince and swindled $16million from Australian taxpayers may not have to pay the money back, because ‘he’s spent it’.
New Zealand-born Joseph Hohepa Morehu-Barlow stole money from his employer Queensland Health over four years while working there as a finance officer.
In 2013 he was sentenced to 14 years behind bars at Wolston Correctional Centre in Brisbane and became eligible for parole in December 2016.
After two failed attempts at being released from jail, he has now been granted parole and is due to be released.
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Kiwi-born Joseph Hohepa Morehu-Barlow (pictured) stole money from his employer Queensland Health over four years after getting a job there as a finance officer
At the time of his arrest, the state government seized his riverside apartment and cars, recovering $11.8million, Nine News reported.
But Morehu-Barlow still owes the state government $12million because of commission, but he will likely never pay it back because he does not have the money.
Queensland Councillor for Civil Liberties, Terry O’Gorman, said: ‘It makes sense of the Government to face reality and write [the money] off.
‘The only way the government will get it is if he wins the lotto in New Zealand big time.’
The now-45-year-old is set to be released before the end of February and will be deported back to New Zealand within days.
After two failed attempts at being released from jail he has now been granted parole and is due to be released
Family members have reportedly been told to be prepared for his release as officials organise his travel back to New Zealand.
Since his arrest, Morehu-Barlow has claimed to be a ‘changed man’, dubs himself the ‘perfect prison inmate’ and pushed for his freedom.
Morehu-Barlow applied for parole twice and was denied before putting a third application in, in November 2019.
In February last year letters were released between Morehu-Barlow and his mother, where he expressed his anger for his two rejected parole applications.
In letter written from his cell, Morehu-Barlow explained that he turned to crime because he wanted to ‘become someone’.
He also claimed to have helped more than 50 inmates with their parole applications and they’ve all been successful, except for his.
‘My one is political, I know that, that’s why I expect not to go home,’ he wrote.
‘I am prepared for them to say no again. I am the perfect inmate, a role model inmate. If my crime wasn’t against the government I would be home already.’
In 2013 he was sentenced to 14 years behind bars at Wolston Correctional Centre in Brisbane’s south-west and became eligible for parole in December 2016
Despite that Morehu-Barlow still owes the state government $12million but will likely never pay it back because he does not have the money
In the letters, he acknowledged the shame he brought to his family and asked for forgiveness from his mother.
He said the time in jail had taught him to appreciate family more than ever before as he is preparing a third application to the Parole Board.
‘I know now the most precious gift/item/things in life is not money, wealth, flash house or cars – it’s people, particularly family,’ he said.
The fraudster’s crimes began in 2004 when he walked into Queensland Health with a fake law degree and quickly climbed the ranks to become a finance officer.
In the following six years he stole money and covered it up by saying he was royalty, beginning by transferring small amounts meant for charities into his private bank account.
Kiwi-born Joseph Hohepa Morehu-Barlow (pictured) defrauded his employer Queensland Health in a four year span where he roped in almost $17million
In 2013 luxurious items seized from Morehu-Barlow’s were auctioned in Brisbane, raising money for Queensland Health
When he found he wasn’t getting caught he started transferring public funds into his own accounts.
In 2011, $11 million went missing from Queensland Health, which Morehu-Barlow used to buy a luxury apartment for $5.4 million, gaining attention from authorities.
Before his arrest in December 2011, Morehu-Barlow would tell friends and colleagues he was a Polynesian prince.
Before his arrest in December 2011, Morehu-Barlow would tell friends and colleagues he was a Polynesian prince
This allowed him to live an extravagant life where he would splash on exorbitant branded goods, gifts for friends and a multimillion-dollar luxury New Farm unit.
Morehu-Barlow was handed a 14-year jail sentence in 2013, with parole eligible in December 2016.
Since being eligible for parole, he has cost taxpayers almost $130,000 while remaining locked away in Wolston Jail, near Brisbane.
According to official Queensland Corrective Services prisoner prices, it would cost a minimum of $65,000 to house and feed him for a year.
The first request for parole in February 2017 was denied by the parole board while a second request in November 2017 was deferred before it was again denied.
The outcome of the request was unclear but it is understood the board previously decided he would be an ‘unacceptable risk to the New Zealand community’.
Despite authorities claiming they have recovered about $11.88 million, Morehu-Barlow owes the state an increased amount of $11.6 million – due to more than $50,000 of interest accumulating each month.
This allowed him to life an extravagant life where he would splash on exorbitant branded goods, gifts for friends and a multimillion-dollar luxury New Farm unit (pictured: police investigating his riverfront apartment)
Morehu-Barlow’s visa was automatically cancelled under the Migration Act.
The act, which was updated in 2014, aims to target foreign nationals convicted of crimes with a minimum one-year jail sentence.
When eventually released in New Zealand, Morehu-Barlow will face ‘parole-like’ conditions.
The State Government can continue to pursue him for the money by applying to register his debt.
In 2013 luxurious items seized from Morehu-Barlow’s were auctioned in Brisbane, raising money for Queensland Health.
The auction included dozens of items from his one of his favourite designers, Louis Vuitton, as well as art, designer alcohol and appliances.
The auction (pictured) included dozens of items from his one of his favourite designers, Louis Vuitton, as well as art, designer alcohol and appliances