He worked his way from typical Kiwi beginnings to become a top-flight Middle East financier earning up to $1 million a year.
But as Toby Carroll begins his 49th day in a Dubai prison cell, his New Zealand family fear the property analyst's career could already be ruined.
The 32-year-old was arrested after being caught up in a violent "love triangle" - and held without charge on suspicion of having sex outside of marriage in the strict Muslim emirate.
The former Aucklander called police after his Brazilian ex-girlfriend, Priscila Ferreira, went berserk in his apartment with a knife when she found him in bed with British woman Danielle Spencer, a former stripper.
But in her first interview about the drama, his mother Beverley Carroll says her son's image as a playboy love rat couldn't be further from the truth.
"He hasn't done anything that any guy in any other country wouldn't do. He has slept with a girl, it was sex out of a marriage and there is no other country where that is a crime.
"What people aren't taking in is that he called the police. They didn't come in because they got reports of rampant sex going on in his apartment.
"All they are concerned about is the sex scandal - they are not concerned about a Kiwi in prison in Dubai."
She said British media had "trashed" Spencer's reputation and fears similar publicity will damage her son's career prospects.,
Athletic and super-smart, Carroll attended Auckland Grammar before moving to Paeroa as a teenager.
He is a keen cyclist and diver who had a steady relationship with long-term girlfriend Anna Jobsz.
Carroll was one of the first New Zealanders to qualify as a Chartered Financial Analyst - the MBA of the financial world - and started out as a trainee analyst at Brook Asset Management, a billion-dollar investment company, in the early 2000s.
A former colleague said: "He was enormously capable. He was one of those guys who ends up being better than his masters."
Carroll moved to Sydney in 2007 to join Macquarie Bank as an analyst.
"He wasn't the sort of guy who would be seduced by the high life. He wasn't some sort of flashy playboy," said the former colleague.
"He is a seriously top flight financial analyst. He's not a fly-by-nighter. He was a team player."
Colleagues said the demands of working 80 hours a week and constant travel around the Middle East inspecting his property portfolio for HSBC would leave little time for cruising nightspots picking up women.
"He would be working his arse off. Investment bankers work hard for their money."
His mother refused to to say how Toby was faring inside prison.
But expats locked up previously described appalling conditions: food riddled with maggots and inmates forced to sleep head-to-toe with other prisoners.
The mother of a Kiwi woman locked up in Dubai several years ago said the authorities were paranoid about "saving face" and would not allow any criticism of their laws.
She travelled to Dubai to try to free her daughter and said her phone was tapped, her emails monitored and her hotel room searched by authorities.
The Auckland woman, who still lives in fear of the Dubai authorities, said: "They would be putting immense pressure on him not to speak out, or allow his family to speak out about what he is going through."
She said: "It's different for him, he works there and makes money there, and so he is inside the system. We are still living a nightmare."
Beverley Carroll has instructed officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade not to speak about where he is being kept, or the conditions in the cells.
"All I want to say is I am extremely proud of my son and I love him dearly. In my eyes, he hasn't done anything wrong."