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Blue Chip's Bryers accused of muddying Talos role

03 Mar 2015

Former Blue Chip boss Mark Bryers was accused of contriving to present himself as a consultant to Talos Accounting Group, when he was actually running the Australian company in breach of rules covering undischarged bankrupts, New Zealand's Official Assignee said.

Bryers this morning ended giving evidence in his application being heard in the High Court at Auckland for discharge from his 5 1/2-year bankruptcy.

He was made bankrupt in 2009 owing $230 million and the Official Assignee is seeking an indefinite ban on him running a company in New Zealand again as a condition of any discharge.

A banning order in New Zealand wouldn't affect Bryers' activities across the Tasman, should he be discharged from bankruptcy.

Phillip Cornege, acting for the Official Assignee who oversees insolvency cases, accused Bryers of contriving to appear he was just a management consultant to Talos when he was running the company. Bryers denied the accusation.

Talos has acquired about 10 provincial and suburban accountancy firms in Australia as part of a strategy to grow large enough to list on the Australian Stock Exchange. Bryers told the court he was hired by Talos as a strategic consultant because of his experience listing Northern Crest Investment (formerly Blue Chip) on the ASX.

Bryers works for Foresight Marketing, which has a number of past and current directors and shareholders who are involved with Talos, and the two businesses share the same office address in Sydney.

Bryers admitted he has been involved in Talos since its inception in 2012 and before he was hired by Foresight. But he denied that emails and company organisational charts naming him as manager meant that he was making the final decisions or managing staff.

He also said a statement given by Talos to the New Zealand Herald newspaper saying Bryers had undertaken various management roles with the company was incorrect.

Bryers worked at Talos under the nom-de-plume Mark Ryan to avoid negative associations with Blue Chip's collapse, where some 2,000 investors were left $84 million out of pocket.

He told the court he acted as a consultant through Foresight for four other clients. The names of those other clients is the subject of a temporary suppression order imposed by Associate Judge Jeremy Doogue after Bryers raised concerns that his association with them would have a negative impact.

He also claimed to have signed confidentiality agreements that included revealing he was advising the companies, one of which was about to be sold. The court was told Bryers didn't use the alias Mark Ryan for his work with these other Australian companies.

Cornege questioned Bryers over an email that indicated he was paid $300,000 for his role at Talos, which Bryers denied, saying: "that would be nice".

Under questioning from his own counsel he said the gross amount Foresight charged for his consultancy work per year was $160,000 of which $60,000 related to Talos. A 20 percent cut went to Foresight shareholder Anderson Vago and the remaining $132,000 was paid to him, Bryers told the court. He also said he had bought his Darlinghurst home in 2005, while still working for Blue Chip.

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