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Exiled Businessman Will Fight to Stay In NZ

Exiled Businessman Will Fight to Stay In New Zealand

A Christchurch-based businessman who blew the whistle on a pension fund fraud in the United States in the 1990s has launched a final bid to stay in New Zealand and avoid unjust imprisonment.

American-born Harmon Wilfred says it is certain he will be incarcerated over manufactured Family Court charges if he ever sets foot in the United States again. His latest visa expired on November 1 and he lodged an appeal with the Removal Review Authority on December 10, 2004 to avoid deportation and obtain residency.

Mr Wilfred is a former financial and property management contractor who uncovered and blew the whistle on a multi-million dollar pension fund embezzlement scheme in Colorado in the mid 1990s. As a result of his allegations the pension fund administrator was convicted and jailed for 18 years and several county officials were fined and fired including the long standing county treasurer with 28 years of tenure.

Since then Mr Wilfred has been dogged by onerous Family Court decisions and spurious charges laid by the same Colorado officials publicly named in the embezzlement scheme, including the local district attorney. These Family Court matters now prevent him from renewing his passport, and under US law there is no right to appeal Family Court decisions to a higher court on a matter involving violations of civil rights.

Mr Wilfred says the custody charges are retribution for the imprisonment of the fund administrator and for blowing the whistle on the district attorney, whom he forced to investigate the matter after alerting the FBI to 18 months of inaction. In 1998, following the fund manager’s conviction and imprisonment, and while on business in Canada, Mr Wilfred was pursued by the same Colorado officials implicated in the embezzlement cover-up. Acting on instructions from US officials he was jailed by Canadian authorities in a maximum-security underground prison for 120 days without confirmation of charges. In the end, the US Federal Government violated the International Hague Commission Treaty forcing a federal judge to dismiss the case and seal the case record to avoid a diplomatic incident.

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To this day Mr Wilfred has not been convicted of any offence and he has no criminal record. He has also been recently advised by the US State Department that the US Government will not seek his extradition.

“The charges that have been laid against me are quite clearly an act of retribution for the imprisonment of the fund manager, and the embarrassment I caused the district attorney, county treasurer and the administrators of the El Paso County Pension Fund in 1995-96. These charges have effectively denied me any chance of interaction with my children. I have not seen them or had any contact with them for seven years.”

Mr Wilfred says he is committed to rebuilding his business and personal life in New Zealand and wants the New Zealand authorities, public and media to be fully informed of his background. To achieve this, Mr Wilfred has taken the unusual step of documenting his Family Court and whistle-blowing experiences on a website (www.luminadiem.com). The website contains an indexed archive of documented evidence outlining:

An onerous Family Court judgment in 1990, in which he was ordered to pay $500,000 to his former wife in spite of being bankrupted in a property market slump in 1987-1990.

The embezzlement of the El Paso County Pension Fund, leading to the jailing of the fund administrator in 1996 for 18 years, the sacking and fining of several public officials and the administrator’s associates on similar charges; and the embarrassment of the district attorney.

A second Colorado Family Court judgment in 1998, while jailed in Canada at the request of Colorado officials, which duplicated the settlement ordered eight years earlier, in spite of Mr Wilfred having insufficient income to support the payments, and without his being allowed to offer a defense.

Allegations of embezzlement taken to the Justice Department, as the result of Mr Wilfred’s work as a financial services contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency in 2000. Due to then President Clinton’s direct involvement in the subject transaction, in late 2000 Mr Wilfred took his concerns to Clinton’s chief legal advisor but was told, in the presence of a witness, “if you take your evidence to the US Justice Department, you will never see your children again.”

Mr Wilfred has records showing the payment of NZ$290,000 in child support since April 2002, but he is still NZ$1.8million in arrears for his three children, aged 11, 13 and 17. “I have always acted in the public interest and been prepared to act when I have been exposed to illegal activity in the course of my work. Sadly this has made me extremely unpopular with Government officials, and there is no doubt, based on my previous experience of being imprisoned without trial or charges, that I will be incarcerated again if I set foot in the US.

“The US Government has made it impossible for me to return to deal with any of the issues regarding my children.”

Mr Wilfred is a former US Air Force weapons specialist who later majored in commerce and international finance at university, before becoming a property developer in Colorado (a full CV is available at (www.harmonwilfred.com). Since his arrival in New Zealand in August 2001 he has contributed to the development of wireless data and powerline communication services technology (www.combined-tech.com) and has invested in a number of New Zealand businesses on behalf of his wife’s estate.

In addition to the "tell-all" website, Mr Wilfred has today launched a web-based forum (www.courtofpublicjustice.com) to allow the media and the public to investigate his background and make their own judgments. “I have been consistently denied justice in the US Family Court and the Federal Courts for 16 years. My experience tells me that justice is best achieved when the media and the people are allowed access to all the relevant information, as happened in the case of the El Paso County Pension Fund fraud. Without media scrutiny, any grievance in the US court system can be easily diverted by corrupt political intervention or inaction.”

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