Pastor backed loans with $15 million fraudsters

A pastor had parishioners pray for God’s help to buy homes and then encouraged them to take out mortgages with a fraudster.

Pastor Joshua Avia of the Hosanna Baptist Church Lower Hutt called members to the front of the church to pray for wealth, then ran $10-a-head prosperity evenings at which he introduced them to fraudster Krishna Veni.

Veni was sentenced last week to 12 months’ home detention for using false documents to secure $15 million of loans for 66 unsuspecting clients. She was found to have used scissors and a photocopier to create fraudulent mortgage applications without the applicants’ knowledge, allowing them to get bigger loans than they were entitled to.

It is estimated more than $1m was lost and two people lost their homes in mortgagee sales.

Mr Avia said members of his church had taken out loans with Veni and many were now struggling to pay their mortgages. He regretted introducing them to Veni, but said he had no idea at the time that her loans were dodgy.

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