Tribunal documents show woman ordered to re-pay investor $10,000 over pyramid scheme

Documents obtained by Kaniva News show that the Disputes Tribunal has ordered Mele Hea to re-pay $10,000 to Tionly Fatukala.

Hea has accused Kaniva News of lying in a story we ran about the dispute.

Fatukala paid the money to Hea to invest in a pyramid scheme she said would produce a triple return.

Mele Hea

Fatukala told the Tribunal that when she realised the investment was a pyramid scheme, which is illegal under New Zealand law, she asked for her money back. She originally asked to be paid all of the money she believed would have been owed to her. It is understood the scheme was reported to the Commerce Commission.

On May 24, the Tribunal said it had established that Fatukala had paid Hea the amount and ordered a repayment of the outstanding amount.

“As payments of $18,000 have been established . . . . and $8000 has been refunded already, I find that Mrs Hea is liable to pay $10,000 to Mrs Fatukala,” the referee ruled.

The Tribunal ordered Hea to repay the outstanding amount on or before June 21 this year.

However, Hea has not re-paid the money.

She told New Zealand Herald she could not afford to pay everybody who wanted a refund.

“If I pay one person a refund, I have to pay all people a refund,” she said.

Hea appealed the Tribunal’s decision, claiming that the referee, J.Perfect, conducted the proceedings unfairly and in a manner which prejudiced  the outcome of the proceedings.

Tionly Fatukala

“Mrs Hea writes in her notice of appeal that the decision was not fair, that she does not agree to pay any money back and that there was false information,” Prefect said in a response sent to both parties.

“The decision was made after hearing the submissions of all parties and considering all the evidence available. I cannot comment on Mrs Hea’s statement about false information because I do not know what she is referring to specifically — there was certainly evidence that was disputed and this was fully canvassed during the hearing.

“Should other matters relating to the procedure of the hearing be raised  . . . I shall be willing to provide a supplementary report.”

Since Kaniva News reported on the story, Hea has told her followers on Facebook that our story was untrue. She said she was “baffled” by our story and accused us of lying.

Kaniva stands by its story, which was originally covered  by the New Zealand Herald. It followed our expose earlier last week of renewed concerns about pyramid schemes targeting members of the Tongan community in Auckland.

Fatukala and Hea will meet in the District Court on February 2 next year after Fatukala asked the court to enforce the tribunal order against Hea since the Tribunal did not have that jurisdiction to do that.

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