Blue Chip Bryers escapes jail; gets fine and community work
Dozens of out-of-pocket Blue Chip investors packed into Auckland District Court this afternoon had mixed reactions when Mark Bryers, the man they trusted with their lost cash, was fined a total of $33,750 and ordered to do 75 hours community work.
Bryers (52), a bankrupt who has lived and worked in Sydney since 2007, faced 34 charges prosecuted by the Ministry of Economic Development for breaching the Companies Act and the Financial Reporting Act.
Bryers’ Blue Chip empire collapsed in 2008, owing more than 2000 investors more than $84 million.
About 50 mainly older investors packed the small courtroom, with another 20 outside, including two carloads who came from Tauranga and Taupo for the sentencing.
They greeted the sentence with a mixture of relief and anger.
One female investor wanted to know why Bryers was not jailed.
Dressed in a dark blue pinstripe business suit, Bryers sat segregated from investors in a glass-screened dock and was led from the court through a side door by two police officers.
His community service will be done in New Zealand.
Crown prosecutor Mark Woolford wanted a $70,000 fine and 150 hours community work.
Bryers’ lawyer Aaron Lloyd’s request for a smaller fine and no community work because it was unjust and impractical, given that Bryers lived in Sydney, was greeted with disbelief and sneers from investors.
Mr Lloyd said Byers’ new involvement with his venture in Sydney – Northern Crest - would be hampered by having to do community work in New Zealand.
During the time Judge Chris Field was considering Bryers’ penalty, he received 100 letters – “a small phonebook” – from investors outlining their personal financial disasters.
Judge Field, who gave Bryers a 20% discount because of his guilty plea, said there was an overwhelming sense of understandable bitterness emerging from the letters.
Describing Bryers as experienced, intelligent and aware of his obligations, the judge told Bryers he failed utterly in his obligations as a company director and the results were catastrophic.
A Serious Fraud Office investigation into Blue Chip continues