Qld court hands down order to freeze fraudster's assets

ALMOST $13 million in assets belonging to former Queensland Health employee Hohepa Hikairo "Joel" Morehu-Barlow, including gifts he gave to friends and colleagues, has been frozen.

The Brisbane Supreme Court granted its ninth and final restraining order in the case - this time restraining more than 150 items such as a tablet computer, Blu-ray disc player, jewellery, designer clothes and cash - on Thursday.

The fake Tahitian prince is awaiting trial accused of swindling $16 million from the government department while working there between 2007 and 2011.

Crime and Misconduct Commission acting financial investigations director Angela Pyke said it was one of the largest proceeds of crime matters the organisation had dealt with, totalling $12,087,352 worth of assets since last December.

"This has been a unique case because of the size and nature of the alleged public sector fraud," she said.

"It is unusual to restrain smaller items such as clothing, homewares and accessories.

"However, because this alleged crime involved a substantial amount of public money, the CMC believed it was in the public interest to restrain all property, regardless of value, in order to recover every dollar possible.

"This ensures that as much money as possible is returned to public coffers.

"It also acts as a deterrent by sending potential offenders a message that the state can and will recover the proceeds of their crimes."

The Supreme Court also has granted the Public Trustee permission to sell a long list of Morehu-Barlow's belongings - including artworks, furniture, appliances and jewellery - that were frozen under previously obtained restraining orders.

The proceeds will still belong to Morehu-Barlow but will be held in trust until a court orders that they be forfeited to the state.

The CMC is also preparing a public report arising from its investigation into how the fraud was handled when allegations came to light.

It will be released after court proceedings involving Mr Morehu-Barlow are finalised.

Ms Pyke said the CMC had recently reached a milestone, having successfully had more than $40 million worth of assets forfeited to the state since the confiscation legislation came into force in 2002.

Topics:  assets brisbane supreme court cmc crime fraud hohepa morehu-barlow queensland health

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