Archive | Mark Bryers

Bryers sentence – how you get there

Published 20 May 2010

Mark Bryers was never going to be sent to jail for not complying with company regulations such as keeping minutes, filing accounts on time, not attending a creditors’ meeting – even though these minutes, accounts & creditors were of companies in a listed group that funnelled multi-millions of dollars out of the bank accounts of small investors into schemes from where much of that money seems to have disappeared into thin air.

 

After scores of charges were whittled down to 34, the former chief of the now-collapsed Blue Chip Financial Solutions group faced just one charge with a potential jail sentence. The prosecutor recommended community work on that, while defence counsel said that, because Mr Bryers lived in Sydney, that would be an inefficient use of the Official Assignee’s limited resources and the penalty should be measured by fines.

 

2 hours after the sentencing hearing began in the Auckland District Court this afternoon, Judge Chris Field (right) sentenced Mr Bryers, 52, to:

75 hours’ community work on one charge (failing to attend the Bribanc Property Group Ltd creditors’ meeting)fines of $16,875 + court costs of $130 on each of 2 chargesfines of $930 + court costs of $130 on each of 4 charges.

 

The judge said another 27 charges should be regarded as “aggravating features” of the 2 lead charges, and on those he convicted & discharged Mr Bryers.

 

That produced a total sentence of $37,470 in fines, 75 hours of community work & $780 in court costs.

 

How do you arrive at these numbers?

 

Crown prosecutor Mark Woolford said there were “a large number of people in court (to see Mr Bryers sentenced) who have suffered enormously because of Blue Chip companies”. But he said the informant (the Ministry of Economic Development’s national enforcement unit, prosecuting for the Securities Commission) “cannot point to any link between the charges to which Mr Bryers has pleaded guilty and the losses by the public. The charges are not fraud charges.”

 

Mr Woolford said there were 4 categories of penalty – the 2 lead charges carried a maximum penalty of $100,000 each, the one on which a 2-year jail term was possible carried an alternative of a $50,000 fine, the bulk of the charges carried $10,000 maximum penalties and the charges relating to the Swordfish Lodge Ltd watershed meeting (when it went into administration) carried maximum penalties of $5000.

 

As a comparison, Mr Woolford gave the example of Kevin Doddrell, who was chief executive of Zazu Ltd, the company that took on the Ansett NZ Ltd business (Ansett became Tasman Pacific Airlines Ltd and traded as Qantas NZ). On receivership in 2001, the companies owed creditors over $100 million. Mr Doddrell pleaded guilty to 3 charges under the Financial Reporting Act. At sentencing in 2003, Judge Fred McElrea said Mr Doddrell wasn’t being held accountable for the whole collapse, that $45,000 represented an adequate starting point (on charges with a maximum penalty of $100,000), and said courts commonly gave discounts of 20-30% for a guilty plea. He reduced the fine to $32,000 + $10 court costs.

 

Mr Woolford said $45,000 was warranted on Mr Bryers’ 2 lead charges, suggested an uplift of $20,000 under the totality principle to take account of the 27 charges with maximum penalties of $10,000, and added $5000 for the watershed meeting charges – a total of $70,000. He added a suggestion of 100 hours’ community work for the missed creditors’ meeting. From that, Mr Woolford said a 20% discount could be given for early guilty pleas.

 

Mr Bryers’ lawyer, Aaron Lloyd, said the starting point should be $50,000, not $70,000, and all penalties should be by way of fine. He said Mr Bryers didn’t attend the Bribanc creditors’ meeting “because he did not receive notification of it. Any suggestion that he left (the country) with the intention of avoiding the meeting is denied by him”. Mr Bryers went to Sydney for a period which included that meeting. He received notice of the watershed meeting “but was concerned about his safety and advised he wasn’t going to be attending”. On the overall filing of accounts, it was normal for the companies’ accountants to do that but he accepted it was his responsibility to ensure it happened.

 

Mr Lloyd said early guilty pleas & remorse were among factors to be taken into account. Remorse was raised only once in oral submissions and Mr Lloyd didn’t elaborate on it beyond saying Mr Bryers “expressed genuine remorse for his actions”. Although Judge Field mentioned $157 million as one of the figures he’d seen for New Zealand losses through the Blue Chip schemes, and Mr Woolford said it may not have been an accurate one, Mr Bryers exported a very similar business model to Australia, where the renamed parent company, Northern Crest Investments Ltd, continues to market it.

 

Perhaps ironically as far as New Zealand investors now see Blue Chip, Mr Lloyd quoted a letter from the chairman of Northern Crest in Sydney, Marc Wilson, who said Mr Bryers “staying in New Zealand (to do community work) would harm Nor

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Bryers fined, gets community service

Published 20 May 2010

Bankrupt & Sydney-based Blue Chip Financial Solutions ex-director Mark Bryers was fined a total $37,470 on 6 charges and sentenced to 75 hours’ community work this afternoon for his failures to carry out regulatory obligations during the last 2 years of the business’ New Zealand operations before its collapse.

 

Court costs amounted to $130 on each of the 6 charges – a total $780.

 

Judge Chris Field imposed the sentences before an overflowing courtroom, which included many investors, some up from Tauranga & Taupo.

 

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Attribution: Court sentencing, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

 

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Bryers guilty on 31 more charges but won’t face jail

Published 24 February 2010

Former Blue Chip Financial Solutions Ltd chief Mark Bryers pleaded guilty to an extra 31 charges in the Auckland District Court through his lawyer yesterday, but won’t be going to jail when he comes back for sentencing on Thursday 20 May.

 

Mr Bryers had been in Auckland last week, when he was due to appear for sentence on 3 charges to which he pleaded guilty last August, and for a status hearing on 69 other charges. But the state of the charges was fluid at that time, the hearing was put off and, this time, the Sydney-based Mr Bryers was excused an appearance.

 

He was adjudicated bankrupt on 1 October, but is able to continue living in Sydneyand travelling to Auckland with the permission of the Official Assignee.

 

In court yesterday, lawyer Aaron Lloyd told Judge Pat Treston 38 charges had been withdrawn. Originally the Ministry of Economic Development’s national enforcement unit laid about 135 charges, but withdrew about 60 last year.

 

Mr Lloyd said the latest withdrawal included charges with a maximum sentence of  5-year jail term, leaving Mr Bryers to face sentence on Financial Reporting Act charges relating to not signing off documents.

 

Of the 31 to which he pleaded guilty yesterday, 2 carry a maximum fine of $100,000. One of the earlier 3 charges carries alternative penalties of 2 years’ jail or a $50,000 fine, but Mr Lloyd said “there’s no suggestion imprisonment will be sought”.

 

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Attribution: Court hearing, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Bryers remanded another week

Published 19 February 2010

It’s just under 6 months since Mark Bryers, former head of the Blue Chip Financial Solutions group, pleaded guilty to 3 charges and was remanded for sentencing. Yesterday he was remanded again on a book entry – no listing on the court sheets, no formalities before a judge, no appearance.

 

Sentencing was first delayed last August because the Ministry of Economic Development’s national enforcement unit brought an additional 69 charges, and Judge John Hole indicated the court might await the outcome of all charges before passing sentence on any of them.

 

In November, Sydney-based Mr Bryers was remanded until today, and today he was remanded to a district court appearance on Tuesday 23 February at 2.15pm.

 

Mr Bryers pleaded guilty last August to failing to attend creditors’ meetings for Swordfish Lodge Management Ltd, which ran the Gulf Harbour Lodge, and Bribanc Property Group Ltd, and to one charge of failing to keep accurate accounting records.

 

At the August appearance, Judge Hole said he was happy for Mr Bryers to remain on bail, allowing him to continue to live in his Sydney cbd apartment. Since then – on 1 October – Mr Bryers has been adjudicated bankrupt, which would normally disqualify him from overseas travel.

 

However, Judge Emma Aitken made no change to bail arrangements in November,  when she said she hoped that would be the final status hearing, either pleas being entered or a hearing set down for the substantive charges.

 

Earlier stories:

5 November 2009: Bryers remanded again

28 August 2009: Bryers guilty on 3 charges, 69 still to come

2 October 2009: Judgment abjectly wrong in Blue Chip case

 

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Attribution: Court, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Bryers remanded to February

Published 30 November 2009

Mark Bryers, former head of the Blue Chip Financial Solutions group, was remanded until February when he appeared before Judge Emma Aitken in the Auckland District Court today for what was to have been sentencing on 3 charges & a status hearing on another 69.

 

The charges were brought by the Minister of Economic Development’s national enforcement unit.

 

Because it wasn’t a status hearing, Judge Aitken suppressed detail of the submissions. No mention was made of sentencing, which Judge John Hole had indicated at an earlier hearing might be deferred until the outcome of all the charges was known.

 

Mr Bryers pleaded guilty in August to failing to attend creditors’ meetings for Swordfish Lodge Management Ltd, which ran the Gulf Harbour Lodge, and Bribanc Property Group Ltd, and to one charge of failing to keep accurate accounting records.

 

At the August appearance, Judge Hole said he was happy for Mr Bryers to remain on bail, allowing him to continue to live in his Sydney cbd apartment. Since then – on 1 October – Mr Bryers has been adjudicated bankrupt, which would normally disqualify him from overseas travel.

 

However, Judge Aitken made no change to bail arrangements today when she remanded Mr Bryers to a status hearing on Thursday 18 February. In doing so, she said she hoped this would be the final status hearing, either pleas being entered or a hearing set down for the substantive charges.

 

Earlier stories:

5 November 2009: Bryers remanded again

28 August 2009: Bryers guilty on 3 charges, 69 still to come

2 October 2009: Judgment abjectly wrong in Blue Chip case

 

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Attribution: Court hearing, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Bryers remanded again

Published 5 November 2009

Mark Bryers, former head of the Blue Chip Financial Solutions group, has had his sentencing on 3 company management charges put off a second time.

 

When Mr Bryers pleaded guilty to the charges in the Auckland District Court in August, he was remanded until 23 October, when a status hearing was also set for another 69 charges, to which he’s pleaded not guilty. Before the moment arose, he was remanded until today without the need for an appearance.

 

Again without the need for an appearance today, the court remanded him until Monday 30 November at 2.15pm.

 

Even then, he may not be sentenced on the 3 charges because, as Judge John Hole indicated in August, the court might prefer to wait until the outcome of the other charges was known.

 

So far, he’s pleaded guilty to failing to attend creditors’ meetings for Swordfish Lodge Management Ltd, which ran the Gulf Harbour Lodge, and Bribanc Property Group Ltd, and to one charge of failing to keep accurate accounting records.

 

At the August appearance, Judge Hole said he was happy for Mr Bryers to remain on bail, allowing him to continue to live in his Sydney cbd apartment. Since then – on 1 October – Mr Bryers has been adjudicated bankrupt, which would normally disqualify him from overseas travel.

 

Meanwhile, an appeal will be heard next week against the judgment of Chief High Court Judge Tony Randerson in a case involving an elderly Whangarei couple who invested through Blue Chip and are trying to keep GE Custodians from selling up their home.

 

The Court of Appeal hearing in Wellington is set down for Tuesday-Wednesday 11-12 November.

 

Earlier stories:

28 August 2009: Bryers guilty on 3 charges, 69 still to come

2 October 2009: Judgment abjectly wrong in Blue Chip case

 

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Attribution: Company statement, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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GE gets judgment against Bryers after selling his 3 luxury cars

Published 9 September 2009

GE Finance & Insurance got summary judgment yesterday against Blue Chip Financial Solutions boss Mark Bryers for the balance still owing on 3 late-model cars he ran in New Zealand.

 

GE repossessed the cars and had them sold through Turners Car Auctions for a combined $520,000. Summary judgment was given for the balance of $432,500 plus $11,500 costs, putting a value on the vehicles of just over $950,000 before counting any equity Mr Bryers might have had in them.

 

The cars were a 2004 Bentley Continental, 2005 Aston Martin DB9 & 2006 Mercedes S600 (the latest model at the time it was bought).

 

Counsel for GE at the short hearing in the Auckland High Court, Mark Frogley, said Mr Bryers now lived in a Sydney apartment and had taken no steps to oppose the application. The papers had been served on his former home in Remuera, where his wife lives, and the application advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald.

 

Mr Frogley said GE didn’t tot up the interest bill because Westpac NZ Ltd had already got an $11.2 million summary judgment order against Mr Bryers and had filed a bankruptcy notice against him.

 

Mr Bryers was managing director and held the controlling interest in the Blue Chip Financial Solutions group (parent company Northern Crest Ltd, listed on the ASX but suspended from trading since February 2008). In August, he was convicted on 4 charges brought by the Minister of Economic Development’s national enforcement unit, was remanded with a not-guilty plea on a further 69 and has since had another 4 charges added.

 

In June, GE Finance & Insurance said it had sold its commercial finance business to related entity Custom Fleet NZ and ceased writing new business in the motor solutions & home lending portfolios. It added: “The group became more selective with its lending, tightened risk criteria & withdrew a number of products from sale.”

 

In its report for the December year, GE Finance & Insurance said it made a $173.3 million pretax loss in 2008, reduced to $151.6 million by a $21.7 million tax benefit (compared to a $19. 8 million pretax loss, $13.1 million after tax, in 2007).

 

Impairment was up from $52.8 million in 2007 to $103.9 million, and $113.8 million was written off in 2008 (nothing in 2007). Finance receivables were down by a third to $90.4 million and loan receivables were down 25% (from $2.49 billion to $1.87 billion).

 

Earlier stories:

23 August 2009: Bryers guilty on 3 charges, 69 still to come

15 July 2009: Bank gets $11.2 million judgment against Bryers

1 July 2009: Second Blue Chip-based trial set to close next week

10 June 2009: Northern Crest (ex-Blue Chip) shows a profit

10 June 2009: Updated: Northern Crest (Blue Chip) beats off Registrar of Companies

2 April 2009: Investors take over hotel operations, expected to shunt Bryers management company into liquidation

29 March 2009: Bryers logs in for a trial process

27 March 2008: Meltzer retains liquidation for Blue Chip companies against push for tougher action

14 March 2008: Investors unaware of years of losses propped up by Blue Chip loans

10 March 2008: Hotel unit buyers get administrator appointed to Blue Chip management company

 

Attribution: Court hearing, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

 

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Bryers guilty on 3 charges, 69 still to come

Published 23 August 2009

Blue Chip Financial Solutions director Mark Bryers was convicted in the Auckland District Court on Friday on 3 charges relating to company management, had 4 others withdrawn and was remanded with a non-guilty plea on a further 69 charges.

 

He won’t be sentenced until at least Friday 23 October, and that will depend on whether the court decides to pass sentence before the outcomes of the other charges are known.

 

The 3 charges to which Mr Bryers pleaded guilty, and the 4 that were withdrawn, all related to management of companies associated with Gulf Harbour Lodge & their liquidation.

 

He pleaded guilty to failing to attend creditors’ meetings for Swordfish Lodge Management Ltd, which ran the Gulf Harbour Lodge, and Bribanc Property Group Ltd, and to one charge of failing to keep accurate accounting records.

 

Judge John Hole remanded Mr Bryers until Friday 23 October at 2.15pm for a status hearing on the remaining charges and said he was happy for Mr Bryers to remain on bail, allowing him to continue to live in his Sydney cbd apartment.

 

The criminal charges are one strand of Mr Bryers’ & the Blue Chip group’s affairs before New Zealand courts.

 

These charges were brought by the Minister of Economic Development’s national enforcement unit. Judges are still deliberating after 2 High Court trials affecting investors in the Blue Chip group, and a summary judgment in favour of Westpac NZ Ltd in July enables the bank to bankrupt Mr Bryers.

 

The Blue Chip group’s New Zealand franchised business collapsed in February 2008. However, the listed company, renamed Northern Crest Investments Ltd, survived an application to wind it up in June this year and, at the same time, appointed 3 new directors and reported a profit. The company’s shares were suspended from trading on the ASX in February 2008.

 

Earlier stories:                             

15 July 2009: Bank gets $11.2 million judgment against Bryers

1 July 2009: Second Blue Chip-based trial set to close next week

10 June 2009: Northern Crest (ex-Blue Chip) shows a profit

10 June 2009: Updated: Northern Crest (Blue Chip) beats off Registrar of Companies

2 April 2009: Investors take over hotel operations, expected to shunt Bryers management company into liquidation

29 March 2009: Bryers logs in for a trial process

27 March 2008: Meltzer retains liquidation for Blue Chip companies against push for tougher action

14 March 2008: Investors unaware of years of losses propped up by Blue Chip loans

10 March 2008: Hotel unit buyers get administrator appointed to Blue Chip management company

 

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Attribution: Court hearing, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Bank gets $11.2 million judgment against Bryers

Published 15 July 2009

Westpac NZ Ltd got summary judgment yesterday against Mark Bryers – head of the collapsed Blue Chip Financial group – for $11.2 million.

 

The judgment was against Mr Bryers as guarantor of company debt, but the precise debt wasn’t disclosed and the bank wouldn’t comment yesterday.

 

However, the High Court judgment enables the bank to take steps to bankrupt Mr Bryers, who has so far eluded that state during the 20 months since the decline of the Blue Chip group became apparent.

 

In that time the New Zealand franchise group has collapsed and the parent company, renamed Northern Crest Investments Ltd & listed – but suspended – in Australia, has fought off liquidation.

 

2 court cases have been conducted by investors in Blue Chip investment schemes to ward off financiers wanting to foreclose on their homes & investment apartments, and against apartment developers seeking to uplift investors’ deposits. No judgment has been issued yet in either case.

 

Mr Bryers still faces fraud charges relating to the keeping of company records, but his personal future is not all gloomy – a month ago, Northern Crest filed accounts showing it made a $15.2 million profit for the March 2009 year after reporting a $146 million loss for the previous year. Mr Bryers also managed to find 3 independent directors for the parent company and was able to take himself off the board, at the same time taking the heat off the one company in the group with any likelihood of survival.

 

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Attribution: Court hearing, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Bryers logs in for a trial process

Published 29 March 2009

Blue Chip Financial Solutions boss Mark Bryers is logged into the court process on the way to a trial, which took him past the media scrum on Friday to a fleeting appearance before Judge Nicola Mather and a remand until the end of May.

 

En route, a process server served bankruptcy & other documents on Mr Bryers – which he let fall to the ground.

 

And while that was happening, Blue Chip’s lesser 3 directors had been given a registrar’s remand until mid-April on a handful of charges.

 

The New Zealand components of the Blue Chip business have gone from collapse in March 2008 to litigation for some of them over aspects of their dealings with apartment buyers. Meanwhile, Mr Bryers has been living in a highrise Sydney Rocks hotel suite overseeing development of the same business model through the renamed Blue Chip, now called Northern Crest Investments Ltd.

 

Mr Bryers, 51, faced 2 batches of charges relating to company books & records and his dealings – or failure to deal with – administrators & liquidators.

 

Given priority over the Auckland District Court No 1 courtroom’s ordinary run of miscreants because of his accompanying camera contingent, Mr Bryers was remanded on 7 charges relating to the administration of Swordfish Lodge Management Ltd, which ran the Gulf Harbour Lodge.

 

He faced about 120 more charges relating to his dealings with the liquidators of the bulk of the Blue Chip group, but that number was halved after discovery of documents.

 

On the first 7 charges Mr Bryers was remanded for a status hearing on Friday 29 May at 2.15pm. Through counsel Aaron Lloyd, he pleaded not guilty to those charges. On the second batch of about 60 charges, he was remanded without plea to the same date, with bail to continue.

 

Bob Bangerter, who became the licensee of the New Zealand franchising business when Blue chip changed its model in 2007, Neil Bell, who took over as director of the franchise companies in 2007, and his alternate, Rikki Flowerday, face 10 Companies Act chares between them.

 

They’ve been remanded until Friday 17 April at 10am.

 

The company they all worked for, Blue Chip Financial Solutions Ltd (now Northern Crest Investments Ltd), faces a liquidation application on Friday 3 April by the Registrar of Companies in the Auckland High Court.

 

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Attribution: Court hearing, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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