Tour bus driver and manager found guilty of fraud

A tour bus driver and his employer have been found guilty of fraud charges after a traffic stop on the difficult Te Anau highway found the driver was not licensed to carry passengers.

Christchurch District Court Judge David Saunders found the general manager of Alps Travel, Xu Cao, 33, guilty of a charge of fraud for causing the driver to dishonestly use another driver’s licence for a financial advantage.

But he acquitted Cao on a charge of causing a false statement to be made in a logbook.

He remanded Cao for sentencing on February 27, after the judge’s reserved decision on the January 29 trial was announced today.

He found the driver, Suyan Qi, 22, guilty on a charge of fraud – dishonestly using another driver’s licence.

Defence counsel Nicola Hansen told the judge as the trial began that Qi admitted charges of driving with an inappropriate licence, having a false logbook, and making false entries in the logbook.

Judge Saunders remanded Qi for a hearing on March 16 after Miss Hansen said an application would be made for a discharge without conviction. The judge called for a pre-sentence report.

The prosecutions were among several that arose after a joint operation involving the police and the New Zealand Transport Agency carried out checks on vehicles on the challenging State Highway 94 between Te Anau and Milford on February 11, 2016.

A bus driven by Qi and carrying passengers was stopped and he produced a licence with a passenger endorsement and a logbook in another driver’s name. Qi was not licensed to take passengers.

Cao said in an interview with police and an NZTA official that he had arranged for the driver who had “some emergency” to leave his licence and logbook for another driver to use. He knew that Qi did not have the correct licence but he could not find another driver.

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