February 16, 2017: Damas Flohr, a 71-year-old man from Tahiti who defrauded 10 members of an Adventist church in Dunedin, southeast New Zealand, has lost an appeal against deportation from the country.
Radio New Zealand reported on its website that Flohr was accused of defrauding fellow churchgoers of $875,483 NZD ($632,442 USD) in an elaborate scheme that would supposedly unlock $30 million NZD (almost $22 million USD) in offshore funds.
He claimed the offshore funds were held in land deals and a Nigerian oil contract. All funds were sent to recipients in China, Nigeria and the United States.
In 2013, Flohr was sentenced to four years in prison in New Zealand. He admitted to seven counts of fraud.
New Zealand’s Immigration and Protection Tribunal said that Flohr was “regretful, sorry and remorseful and has a contrite heart,” but that he still believes that the funds will eventually be returned to him.
“He does not believe that the people from whom he took large sums have suffered, as they were well-off financially,” said the tribunal, adding that Flohr had personally begun paying back the people he had defrauded.
Flohr’s wife had vowed to accompany him if deported. She appealed against his deportation, saying that it was cruel to give her the choice of having to leave her home country of New Zealand or part with her husband of 46 years.
The judge disagreed with her assessment. He ruled that there were no humanitarian reasons not to deport Flohr as the two had lived in Tahiti for 30 years and had property and a son there.
The judge ruled that Flohr had “manipulated the Christian ethos” of the Adventist churchgoers.