Bankrupt: the man Kiwis love to hate

Bryers wasn't always so unpopular. He was said to be a charismatic, gifted salesman. With friend Bob Bangerter, he co-founded Blue Chip - an aggressive outfit that targeted Kiwis concerned about retirement. The company offered to source residential properties and arrange the financing, usually by taking a mortgage on investors' family homes. Thousands of people bought in. Some are now left destitute. There is anger and devastation.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz
October 18, 2009

Bankrupt: the man Kiwis love to hate
Megan Jones

MarkBryersSmiling.jpg

Mark Bryers wasn't in court to hear the ruling. Photo / Doug Sherring

In the end, the cheque-in-the mail promises and business bluster weren't enough to stave off the inevitable.

Mark Bryers, co-founder of the collapsed Blue Chip property investment company, had fought hard to avoid bankruptcy, but angry creditors - collectively owed $85 million - had had enough.

Despite jetting across the Tasman from his Sydney base to attend various court appearances this year, Bryers didn't make the trip this time. He was not in the High Court to hear Associate Judge David Robinson reject his 11th-hour repayment proposal and instead declare him bankrupt.

The former Blue Chip boss claimed to have no assets apart from his clothes, some furniture and his beloved set of golf clubs which, in buoyant times, he used regularly at the exclusive Remuera Golf Club.

Even after the collapse, Bryers continued the good life in Sydney, renting a suite in the five-star Quay West apartments, with heated pool and harbour views.

One blogger wrote this month: "Bryers being bankrupted is a joke. He will be maintained in the life that he is accustomed, by willing trustees and family."

Bryers wasn't always so unpopular. He was said to be a charismatic, gifted salesman. With friend Bob Bangerter, he co-founded Blue Chip - an aggressive outfit that targeted Kiwis concerned about retirement. The company offered to source residential properties and arrange the financing, usually by taking a mortgage on investors' family homes.

Thousands of people bought in. Some are now left destitute. There is anger and devastation.

But for the most part, Bryers has refused to take any responsibility for the collapse. Ambitious and incorrigible, he was once quoted by a former colleague as wanting to be the "first Maori billionaire".

He drove a Bentley, a Mercedes and an Aston Martin. He regularly visited an Auckland brothel, sometimes spending thousands of dollars to block-book its women.

But the business began to struggle when the guaranteed rentals it needed to pay started exceeding its income.

In the middle of 2007 it offloaded the NZ Blue Chip businesses to a series of franchise companies run by former Blue Chip people. Then early last year investors complained they weren't receiving rent payments.

In February last year, 19 companies associated with Blue Chip Financial Solutions in New Zealand were placed in liquidation. While Rome was burning, Bryers went on a luxury tour of Scottish golf courses, including St Andrews, to celebrate his brother's 60th birthday.

Then, while Bangerter was made bankrupt over unpaid Blue Chip rent, Bryers was reinventing himself in Sydney. Blue Chip's parent company, Blue Chip Financial Solutions, was renamed Northern Crest Investments and Bryers began plugging it in Australia.

Bryers resigned as director of Northern Crest Investments in May, and the following month the High Court rejected a bid by NZ officials to have Northern Crest Investments wound up.

Bryers is still on bail for various criminal charges relating to the collapse of his former company in New Zealand. In August he pled guilty in the Auckland District Court to three charges relating to failure to attend meetings or keep adequate accounting records.

By his own estimation, he owes a long list of creditors $173 million. He is undoubtedly one of New Zealand's most loathed men. At the High Court bankruptcy proceedings, Bryers made an eleventh hour offer to pay back $1.2 million.

Bryers' lawyer said the creditors rejected the offer out of vindictiveness and spite. "It's fair to say he's hated," the lawyer said.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/personal-finance/news/article.cfm?c_id=12&objectid=10603808


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