The charges Sir Ron Brierley faces in Australia reportedly relate to more than 200,000 images and 512 videos of child abuse.
An anonymous tip led police to arrest the New Zealand businessman and charge him for alleged possession of child pornography.
The 82-year-old was arrested at Sydney Airport on Tuesday as he was about to board a plane to Fiji, according to a statement by New South Wales Police. Detectives searched through his carry on luggage and seized his laptop and two electronic storage devices.
"The contents of his laptop and electronic storage devices were reviewed, which are alleged to have contained large amounts of child abuse material," NSW Police said.
Eastern Beaches police in Australia began investigating the matter in August this year after receiving an anonymous tip-off from a member of the public, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Brierley has been charged with six counts relating to possession of child pornography. The paper reported they relate to more than 200,000 images and 512 videos of alleged child abuse, according to senior police sources.
The Point Piper man was taken to Mascot Police Station and charged with six counts of possessing child abuse material. He was granted strict bail conditions and ordered to appear at Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court on February 10.
Police were also granted a warrant to search his home in Wunulla Road.
Brierley, knighted in 1988, was a giant of the New Zealand corporate scene through 1970s and 1980s leading a series of daring corporate raids and takeovers.
He finally retired in June this year.
"Due to age and health issues, I can no longer give the total commitment to the company which it requires and which shareholders deserve," Brierley said in a statement to the ASX.
Brierley founded the much feared corporate raider, Brierley Investments, in 1961.
He went on to capture investors' imaginations with some daring market plays, which often bore fruit for shareholders, in the market boom years of the 1980s.
Brierley launched Brierley Investments in 1961, a business that went on to become New Zealand's largest listed company before taking a hit in the 1987 crash.
He went on to form Guinness Peat Group which was active in the 1990s and 2000s.
Brierley's standing in the business community altered subtly with each decade, his biographer Yvonne van Dongen wrote for a Herald feature in 2011:
"He started in the 1960s as a pesky corporate gadfly with cheeky recommendations and bold assertions in the tip sheet he wrote while still in his teens. From his 20s on, he refined his techniques and became ever more adventurous until the sight of his name on a share register was enough to give company directors conniptions.
"He was the scourge of fat, lazy boards and sought out hidden or undervalued assets, often in the form of property, which he then spun off and sold on. This Brierley was derided as an asset stripper and corporate raider.
"In the "greed is good" 1980s, he was recast more favourably as an entrepreneur, made a knight of the realm and chairman of New Zealand's largest bank, Bank of New Zealand. By 1984, with Collins as chief executive, BIL was the largest company in New Zealand by market capitalisation, with 160,000 shareholders and investments in over 300 companies around the world, including French department store company Galeries Lafayette and Air New Zealand.
"But just when he was at his zenith, everything unravelled in the wake of the 1987 sharemarket crash. BNZ posted its largest loss ever under his chairmanship, IEL imploded and in-fighting at BIL escalated. Eventually he left the helm of BNZ and was ousted as chairman of BIL and IEL."