Infamous New Zealand businessman Mark Bryers is behind bars after being remanded in custody over his alleged connection to an Australian criminal syndicate and multimillion-dollar tax fraud.
The 62-year-old, whose Blue Chip group collapsed in 2008 owing investors $84 million, was arrested in Queensland last month.
He and several others, including former bank employees, were nabbed in Sydney, Canberra and the Gold Coast by a task force investigating an Australian organised criminal group.
The syndicate was allegedly being directed by underworld-connected construction boss George Alex. Bryers is accused by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) of helping him structure an A$17.5m (NZ$18.8m) tax scam.
After initially being granted bail on July 21 in Queensland after his arrest, Bryers was due to appear in a Sydney court on July 24.
However, he was unable to arrive in time and was to be brought to New South Wales in custody for a hearing the next day, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The Herald has obtained court records that show Bryers appeared on July 25 before a Parramatta court via video link from custody.
He was refused bail after making no application to be released, the records show.
Bryers then appeared again last Friday at the Downing Centre Local and District Court and is next due at Sydney's Central Local Court in September.
Charged with intentionally dealing with proceeds of crime, money or property worth more than $1m, Bryers faces up to 25 years behind bars if convicted.
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The man who once had an estimated personal wealth of $70m is also charged with conspiring with the intention of dishonestly causing loss to the Australian Government.
Such a charge carries a maximum 10-year term of imprisonment.
Last week the Herald reported details of Bryers' connection to "Operation Bordelon" - the joint AFP, Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Australian Securities and Investments Commission sting.
It is alleged, according to court documents obtained by the Herald, that the group's tax-dodging labour hire structure was Bryers' idea, after he was first "employed by the syndicate in early 2019".
A 65-page statement of claim by the AFP alleges the scheme involved labour-hire firms outsourcing payroll services to other companies that had no intention of paying tax to the ATO.
The money was instead allegedly laundered, while the payroll companies were dumped and a new one formed when the debt grew too much.
Bryers personally pocketed A$1.92m from the fraud, the AFP alleges.
The court papers also show the proceeds of the alleged conspiracy were used by Alex and his associates to purchase luxury items, finance a Gold Coast apartment, and fund their lavish lifestyles.
But authorities had bugged the Gold Coast apartment, which was allegedly being used as a meeting house for the syndicate.
At one meeting, Bryers was allegedly recorded telling Alex: "... I want to get to a point that if anybody gets asked about who owns, ultimately, this group of companies, that the Federals (AFP), the ATO, the such and such, can't get to the f***ing truth."
During an earlier conversation with Alex, who has connections with the outlaw Nomads motorcycle gang, Bryers said: "Before the others come in I just need to talk to you George. I need you to sit down and really listen to this. I have a cunning plan."
Alex, who has also been denied bail, replied: "I love a cunning plan."
After the Blue Chip group failed, Bryers was personally bankrupted in 2009 with debts of $230m.
Bryers, who was found to be a big-spender at an Auckland brothel, would later plead guilty to 34 financial reporting charges in 2010.
He was fined $37,500 and ordered to complete 75 hours of community work by the Auckland District Court. Bryers is also banned by the High Court from acting as a manager or director in New Zealand until 2022.