Tongan Westpac bank fugitive released on bail

A former Westpac  Bank employee who was extradited from New Zealand for allegedly embezzling thousands of dollars was released on bail January 27.

She will reappear in court on February 17.

Heleni Vi was charged with 16 counts of forgery, embezzlement and theft worth more than $8,000 while working at the bank in Nuku’alofa.

Vi’s lawyer, Fatai Vaihu, persuaded Magistrate Folau Lokotui to set a reasonable bail amount for her client, arguing she had remained in custody since she arrived from New Zealand.

Vi was released on TP$2,000 bail and told to her to surrender her passports to the court. She was also ordered to report to Nuku’alofa central police every Friday at 4pm.

Westpac bank had laid a fraud complaint against Vi.

The court was told Vi left for New Zealand the same day police were to serve her with her prosecution notice.   

Lokotui asked the Police Prosecutor how Vi was allowed to leave Tonga when police knew she was facing criminal charges.   

Police Prosecutor Mema Latu said there was no court order to prevent Vi from leaving Tonga and she left on a visitor’s visa.  

Vi allegedly fled to New Zealand in July 2013 but was deported back to Tonga by New Zealand Police on January 18.

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