It’s difficult to understand how $US15.5 million could be stolen in such a way. But that is what happened at Commerzbank in Germany when expatriate English bankers Matthew Holmes and Donald Somers secretly transferred the funds to an ABN Amro Bank account in Amsterdam held by a company based in the British Virgin Islands.
That was on August 15, 2000, when most of the Western world had an eye on Sydney and its preparations for the Olympic Games. But on the other side of the country, well-known Perth businessman Roger Bryer was about to become involved in an international money laundering syndicate’s attempts to clean the stolen funds.
Mr Bryer, now 69, was a big player on Perth’s fringe second board business scene in the 1980s, most notably through investment group Sun Securities, forestry company TPS Group, financier Citizen Finance and mining house Base Resources.
He lunched with the likes of Peter Briggs and Alan Bond, battled for control of businesses with Peter Laurance and, at least once, rubbed shoulders with the underworld. Giving evidence at Northbridge identity Vince Italiano’s wilful murder trial about a failed business deal he had discussed with the thug was one of the last things he did before falling off the news radar.
By 2000, when the money was stolen from Commerzbank, Mr Bryer had enough money and shares to keep him out of the limelight. He had invested in property and was also running a collectables shop in Fremantle called Millennium Exposition of Wonders. He didn’t need to make any more deals. But, like any good businessman, he was always looking for an opportunity.
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