THE family of a Kiwi fraudster - who is on the run after millions of public dollars disappeared - say they have no idea where he is.
Police in Australia have been searching for Hohepa Morehu-Barlow, 36, who also goes by the name Joel or Joseph Barlow, over a A$16 million ($21 million) fraud on Queensland Health.
Morehu-Barlow was accused of taking small amounts over two or three years, with $11 million stolen in the last few weeks. He had been employed by Queensland Health since 2005 and was involved in awarding financial grants to non-government health agencies.
His uncle Mike Barlow was shocked when the Herald on Sunday contacted him at his home in Thames yesterday. "I didn't know," Mike said. "He went to Australia 15 years ago. I just heard he was living in Australia and doing quite well."
Morehu-Barlow attended high school in Thames before going to Victoria University.
Morehu-Barlow was at work on Thursday as police arrived, but slipped away. Police froze up to A$12 million of his assets, including an apartment, luxury vehicles, artworks and large sums in bank accounts.
Morehu-Barlow has partied with Brisbane's celebrities and was named in the Sunday Mail's annual most-stylish list.
A friend, who did not want to be named, said family did not know about the accusations.
"I'm like a family member to them. I've never known him to be like that. He loves his nephews and that's all I know," he said.
The family was struck with tragedy four years ago when Barlow's 23-year-old brother Trevor Waata Morehu-Barlow died. His mother Andre Barlow did not want to comment and his father Rufus Morehu did not return messages.
Queensland Health Minister Geoff Wilson said Morehu-Barlow had transferred funds by forging a signature.