A serial conman who allegedly ripped off investors through an online betting agency and funnelled millions of dollars overseas will remain behind bars because he poses an unacceptable flight risk.
Peter Foster made a bid for bail on Thursday, three weeks after he was arrested in Queensland accused of being the “mastermind” behind the Sports Trading Club (STC).
It is alleged Mr Foster posed as someone involved in the company under the alias “Mark Hughes” in 2013 and encouraged a South African-born investor to deposit money into accounts, including one offshore, linked to STC.
The investor was allegedly told he was investing in STC obtaining a licence in South Africa. He spoke to “Hughes” daily and monitored his investment online, a statement of facts tendered in court showed.
The Western Australian-based man allegedly poured more than $1 million into STC, not a cent of which he received back.
Mr Foster appeared via audio-visual link in Sydney’s Central Local Court on Thursday where his bail was denied after a magistrate found he was an unacceptable flight risk.
The prosecution submitted police found something of an “escape kit” buried in Mr Foster’s back yard, including an Irish passport and Medicare card.
However Mr Foster’s counsel John Young said the passport was useless as it was published in the media.
Due to a pending civil claim, Mr Foster was aware of the allegations against him for years but chose to stay in Australia.
“Mr Foster is plainly a man with a certain notoriety, but the record ought to be looked at for what it is,” Mr Young said.
“It’s extensive and in certain respects it’s quite shameful, (but) it shouldn’t be suggested Mr Foster is more than what he actually is.”
It is not the first time Mr Foster, 54, has found himself in strife regarding allegedly shonky investment schemes.
In 2005, the part-time Byron Bay and Gold Coast resident was banned from any involvement in the weight loss industry after he was linked to the weight loss scam SensaSlim.
During the 1980s he persuaded topless model and pop singer Samantha Fox and the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, to promote his product Bai Lin tea, which falsely claimed to promote weight loss and wellbeing.
According to the statement of facts, the victim in the most recent allegations got in contact with “Mark Hughes” after reading an advertisement in the newspaper in 2013.
The alleged victim initially deposited $150,000 before travelling to STC offices in Sydney for a meeting with Hughes.
However when the man got there, he was greeted with Mr Hughes on a Skype video call. The facts state the same situation unfolded when the man travelled to the London STC office.
Foster allegedly convinced the man to deposit $1.3 million into a Hong Kong account to purchase the licence in South Africa.
Court documents outline how the scheme began to unravel when the director of STC sent the investor a message referring to a man called Peter Foster.
An internet search revealed a video of Foster, and the victim matched the image with the man he knew as Mark Hughes.
Altogether, the man had deposited more than $1.5 million into STC and the Hong Kong accounts, police allege.
Since the scheme started, police allege $32 million has been deposited into STC’s Sydney-based Westpac account with a majority sent offshore.
Mr Foster’s case was adjourned to April.