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Ex-Rich Lister Michael McGurk convicted of stealing $35,000

Ex-Rich Lister Michael McGurk (54) been found guilty by a jury of stealing $35,000 of pokie money from his central Auckland hotel, the Albion, the Herald on Sunday reports.

The Department of Internal Affairs brought the charge and said the money was meant for the Pacific Sports and Community Trust, subsequently known as the Nautilus Foundation, the HOS says.

Gambling compliance director Debbie Despard said McGurk used the pokie money for hotel trading expenses.

McGurk told the paper the charge was "absolute nonsense." After the Albion went into receivership, he intended to pay the money into the trust, but receivers McDonald Vague had trespassed him from the premises (the receiver declined comment).

Best known as the founder of the Spa and Pool Factory, McGurk was on the NBR Rich List until 2008, when he was valued at $60 million. At the height of this wealth, his holdings included more than 20 pubs and a fun park.

But his fortune has taken a hammering during the GFC, with his property development company Oasis Properties being put into receivership and liquidation in 2009.

The same year, the McGurk faced a High Court action from Hanover Finance, which was looking to recover $9 million owed by the Rich Lister. The failed finance company wanted an order forcing McGurk to sell his home. The matter was settled out of court. McGurk was later declared bankrupt.

"At the moment I'm helping out a couple of mates doing bits and pieces so I can get something to eat," he told the HOS.