Lomu fends off businessman

Former All Black Jonah Lomu says he walked away from an alleged conman and a promised $18.5-million kick boxing deal when the man used his name to buy Taupo apartments.

Lomu, the giant winger who played 63 Tests and scored 37 tries before being laid low by a debilitating kidney ailment, took the witness stand at Auckland District Court on Wednesday in the trial of Loizos Michaels, who has denied 31 counts of fraud involving more than $3m lost by dozens of investors in various schemes.

Lomu told the court he first met Michaels in a Wellington bar in 2008 and he proposed Lomu front a new venture, the KO World Series for kickboxing, Fairfax reports.

Lomu said at later meetings he was told he would get US$15m (NZ$18.5m), but he never saw any of the money.

He also became wary of Michaels when he saw a stream of disgruntled investors and tradespeople seek him out at Michaels' Greek restaurant in Auckland.

Lomu said he though "okay, something's up here".

The final straw was when Lomu discovered Michaels had used his name on the sale and purchase agreement to buy the Sacred Waters Apartments complex in Taupo, later in 2008.

"So I gave him back the contract itself and I walked - after that I haven't seen him since, until today," he said.

Lomu said he was angry at his name being misused to bolster Michaels' schemes.

"I spent my whole life building my reputation and my name, and for someone to walk into my life and try and do that? Hell no."

The trial is continuing.

National Party President Peter Goodfellow, who hired the private detectives who first blew the whistle on Michaels, is due to testify on Thursday.

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