updated 5/22/2009 10:45:11 AM ET 2009-05-22T14:45:11

A businessman and his girlfriend, whose bank accidentally handed them a $6.1 million credit line, have managed to flee the country with more than a third of the cash, the bank said Friday.

An international search is under way for the couple, who are believed to have gone on the run, possibly to Hong Kong or China, to avoid having to give the money back.

On Friday, a New Zealand woman told the TV3 network that the couple sought by police were her daughter Kara Yang and boyfriend Leo Gao, who were traveling with Yang's 7-year-old daughter, Leena.

Sue Hurring said that while the situation was "stupid, bizarre," her daughter was "honest."

"She has never pinched a thing in her life — probably as a little girl, yes — but she is so honest, so honest," she told the network.

The New Zealand Press Association also reported the names of the couple.

Interpol investigating
Police have not identified the pair. Detective Senior Sgt. David Harvey said Interpol was investigating in Hong Kong and was also working with officials in Beijing.

Westpac Bank said in a statement Friday that the couple, who ran a gas station in the North Island city of Rotorua, had a bank overdraft of New Zealand $61,000. On Thursday, the bank had mistakenly said the couple's overdraft was worth NZ$10,000.

But in formalizing this credit limit — meant for the gas station the couple ran — the bank accidentally opened a line of credit for NZ$10 million ($6.1 million), the statement said. Initial details from the bank indicated that money had actually been deposited into their account.

An account holder then tried to transfer about NZ$6.7 million ($4 million) out of the account, but the bank was able recover NZ$2.8 million ($1.7 million), the bank said. The statement did not specify how it got the money back.

"Westpac is continuing to vigorously pursue the outstanding amount," the bank said.

Companies Office records list Gao and another person not connected to the heist as owners of the gas station, which police said filed for bankruptcy protection this month.

Westpac says it considers the money to have been stolen but conceded it was human error at the bank that made the couple accidental millionaires.

Hurring, a hairdresser in the South Island town of Blenheim, pleaded Friday for her daughter to stop running.

"Just come home now; it will be OK," she told the TV3 network.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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