Former Blue Chip boss Mark Bryers is yet to enter a plea over allegations of a multimillion-dollar tax conspiracy with connections to an Australian crime syndicate.
The infamous New Zealand businessman appeared this morning in Sydney's Central Local Court on two charges over allegedly helping an underworld crime boss structure an A$17.5m tax scam.
The 62-year-old, whose Blue Chip group collapsed in 2008 owing investors $84m, was arrested in Queensland by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in July along with several others, including former bankers.
After today's hearing, New South Wales court staff confirmed to the Herald that no plea had yet been recorded for Bryers.
He is charged with intentionally dealing with proceeds of crime, money or property worth more than $1m and also of conspiring with the intention of dishonestly causing loss to the Australian Government.
Bryers faces up to 25 years behind bars if convicted of dealing with proceeds of crime.
The man who once had an estimated personal wealth of $70m also made no bid for bail and will remain in custody until at least next week, when he is due to appear in court again.
Last month, the Herald reported extensive details of Bryers' connection to "Operation Bordelon" - the joint AFP, Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Australian Securities and Investments Commission investigation.
The allegations link Bryers to a syndicate that was allegedly being directed by underworld-connected construction boss George Alex.
The group's tax-dodging labour-hire structure was allegedly Bryers' idea, after he was first "employed by the syndicate in early 2019", according to court documents obtained by the Herald.
Police allege 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 is accused of personally pocketing A$1.92m from the fraud, while the AFP claims Alex and his associates used the funds to purchase luxury items and finance a Gold Coast apartment.
The AFP says the apartment was used as a meeting house for the syndicate and was bugged by authorities. Bryers has been allegedly recorded at the apartment telling Alex he had a "cunning plan".
After the Blue Chip group failed, Bryers, who was found to be a big-spender at an Auckland brothel, was personally bankrupted in 2009 with debts of $230m.
He would later plead guilty to 34 financial reporting charges in 2010 and be 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 Aotearoa until 2022.