Billabong boss allegedly lied to wife about wealth, debt

FORMER Billabong boss Matthew Perrin hid investments worth more than $50million from his wife and forged her signature on documents which allowed the bank to seize their Gold Coast mansion in the event of a business collapse. 

Those are among the allegations levelled against the 44-year-old former millionaire who is on trial in Brisbane District Court charged with 12 fraud related offences.

The court heard on Monday morning that Perrin and his then wife Nicole were living the kind of envious life "you would see on a TV show" after selling their stake in Billabong for $33million when the surf wear company went public in the early 2000s.

They lived in an exclusive property on Cronin Island near Surfer's Paradise and their business dealings were conducted through their company Christie Queensland Pty Ltd which they named after the eldest of their three children.

Crown Prosecutor Glen Cash told the court that by 2008, Mr Perrin was overseeing investments in major enterprises including donut franchise Krispy Kreme when he began having "difficulty" and approached the Commonwealth Bank for an extension to his line of credit as well as further business loans of up to $13.5 million.

He said that as part of the application process, Mr Perrin dishonestly signed his wife's name on documents allowing the house, which it would be alleged was bought solely in Mrs Perrin's name for the purpose of protecting the family home should unforeseen business trouble arise, to be put up as security for the loans.

Much of the evidence, he said, would centre around a "dramatic" family meeting in which Mr Perrin allegedly "lay on the floor with his heads in hands crying saying he was going to jail and owed people a lot of money".

He said that at the time Mr Perrin's wife had expressed concern that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss potential infidelity in their marriage but that he had replied "no, it's much worse".

The Crown also relies on a "confessional" letter which it says was delivered to Mr Perrin's father-in-law expressing regret for the alleged offending. In it, Mr Perrin allegedly writes that he destroyed the "faith and trust" his wife had in him and that he had led her to believe his investments in a Chinese supermarket franchise were around $2million when in fact they were greater than $56million. 

Defence barrister Andrew Hoare told the jury it would be up to them to decide whether Mr Perrin had permission to write his wife's name on the documents in question. He suggested they might hear "compelling evidence" that she knew about the transactions and that it was "entirely usual" for Mr Perrin to sign her name for her.

The trial before Justice Julie Dick is expected to run for up to two weeks.

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