Bankrupt Mark Bryers has tried to distance himself from a Blue Chip-style company in Australia but Herald inquiries indicate he is a key decision-maker in the operation.
The Weekend Herald last week reported that Bryers was using the name Mark Ryan while managing Talos Accounting Group. Company documents list him as "general manager" and in charge of "strategy", an apparent breach of bankruptcy provisions which prohibit him from being a director or manager of a company here or in Australia.
Bryers, who is seeking to be discharged from bankruptcy, subsequently issued a statement stating that he had never been a shareholder or director and had worked for Talos "as a consultant via my employer".
Talos' records filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) list Stephen Lacy as sole director and shareholder but record that he holds shares beneficially for others. Mr Lacy has not responded to Herald questions, including whether he holds shares beneficially for any of Bryers' interests.
Bryers' Auckland lawyer, Aaron Nicholls, declined to name Bryers' employer but acknowledged that the High Court in Auckland this month recorded that Bryers was "presently employed by Australian company, Forsite Marketing Pty Ltd". Forsite's official extract shows that ASIC began moves in June to deregister the company. It can take such action if the company has not made required filings or payments on time or if it thinks the company is no longer in business.
Anderson Vago is listed as Forsite's sole director. According to Talos head office internal documents Vago is Talos' "treasury manager".
Forsite's shares are listed as belonging to Trident Corporate Accounting Pty Ltd which lists Mr Lacy as its sole director and shareholder, holding the shares beneficially. The address for Forsite and Trident is Talos' head office on the eighth floor of Gold Fields House in Circular Quay.
Complaints claiming the Talos group has not honoured debts and tax obligations have been made to Australian authorities. According to a complaint to ASIC, Bryers is the beneficial owner of 51 per cent of the company, with five partners splitting the rest.
The Herald has copies of Talos documents which appear to support the claim made to ASIC that Bryers called the shots at the company.
An unsigned statement from Talos Accounting in response to Herald inquiries said Talos was aware Bryers was working under the name Mark Ryan. "We felt this was not material to the consulting services he provided to the company."
According to a source, Talos aims to acquire 100 small accountancy firms, achieve a turnover of $300 million and launch on the Australian stock exchange in three years. A part of the company's strategy is to pitch property investments to the clients of the accounting firms it acquires, a hallmark of Blue Chip. Talos internal documents indicate that its management team includes Bryers (using the name Ryan), Laurie Eakin, Robert (Bob) Hughes, Vago and Martin Mulder, who are understood to be beneficial owners along with Mr Lacy.
The Australian Tax Office is investigating complaints that Talos has failed to meet its superannuation payment obligations.