Record depth of Bryers' debt revealed

By David Fisher

Mark Bryers is due back in Sydney next week to his $2.5 million apartment. Photo / Doug Sherring
Mark Bryers is due back in Sydney next week to his $2.5 million apartment. Photo / Doug Sherring

New documents reveal Blue Chip boss Mark Bryers owes $235 million - believed to be the largest bankruptcy in New Zealand.

Court papers also reveal he entered bankruptcy last October, claiming he had only $300 in a bank account after the collapse of his finance schemes, which cost about 3000 investors more than $80 million.

Next week Bryers will be back in Sydney where he drives a late-model Peugeot, earns $144,000 a year and lives in a $2.5m apartment.

His cash comes from consultancy work for Northern Crest Investments Ltd, the only company remaining of his once-sprawling empire.

He returned after being fined about $38,000 and ordered to do 75 hours' community work on charges of poor financial record keeping and failing to attend a meeting with investors.

Many of the investors at court wanted jail for Bryers, but the corporate community considered a community work sentence severe for such charges.

Court files viewed by the Herald on Sunday show Bryers' employer at Northern Crest Investments Ltd tried to convince the judge to let him off with a fine.

Chairman Marc Wilson wrote to say a scheme planned to repay Blue Chip investors was likely to be cancelled if Bryers was given community work.

He said the company could also end its financial arrangement with Bryers.

Although Bryers did not make a plea for clemency, Wilson said the end of the company had a "profound emotional impact at all levels" on the former finance boss.

He said the company collapse and bankruptcy was "an enormous ordeal" for Bryers. "They have caused him to look closely at himself and to undertake a great deal of soul-searching."

He said Bryers, who issued a statement on Friday apologising for his actions, had an "immense" sense of responsibility for the company failure and the losses that followed.

He was "extremely remorseful" that a company which "enhanced the economic activity in New Zealand" had such a negative impact.

"The price that Mr Bryers has already paid includes the loss of his marriage, being alienated from his extended family, being reviled by many people in New Zealand, being financially decimated and made bankrupt."

The documents also calculate the debt at $235m and show the Insolvency Office Assignee - which oversees bankruptcies - has yet to receive all the information it has demanded.

Liquidator Bernie Montgomerie said the estimate of debt was "by far the largest" he had seen. A report by the Insolvency Office on Bryers' assets shows investigators asked for details of two trusts from which he had received money.

It also showed he was written out of his family trust shortly after Herald on Sunday revelations of spending in brothels.

The fines imposed on Bryers last beyond his bankruptcy so the debt will be waiting when he is released from insolvency.

- Herald on Sunday

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