Roger Bryer – Money Laundering, Operation Torren and SOCA
In August 2000, Roger Bryer got involved in one of the biggest international money laundering syndicates. He helped 2 expatriate English bankers in Germany, Donald Somers, and Matthew Holmes, vanish $US15.5 million from Commerzbank.
They transferred those funds to an ABN Amro Bank account in Amsterdam in a company account based in the British Virgin Islands. For those who don’t know, the British Virgin Islands are one of the biggest havens for shell companies.
Who is Roger Bryer?
Roger Bryer was a prominent figure in Perth’s fringe second-board business scene during the 80s. He ran Sun Securities, an investment firm, TPS Group, a forestry firm, and Base Resources, a mining firm.
Roger used to dine with notable personalities such as Alan Bond and Peter Briggs.
At one point, he was battling for control of the business with Peter Laurance. Before making headlines for his involvement in a major money laundering syndicate, Roger Bryer had entered the news for a completely different reason.
He had given evidence at Northbridge identity Vince Italiano’s wilful murder trial about a failed business transaction he had discussed with the crook.
In 2000, when the money arrived in his pocket, Roger Bryer had enough funds to stay out of the limelight. After all, he had invested in a lot of property and was operating a collectibles shop in Fremantle called Millennium Exposition of WOnders.
Clearly, Roger didn’t need to indulge in additional business transactions. However, he was always on the lookout for the next big thing.
In May 2000, Roger Bryer caught up with Tony Silano, a slightly bigger property developer, and an American businessman.
Silano had once secured gold bond certificates supported by then-Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos. He used them to fund his plans for building a casino in Las Vegas.
However, when Marcos lost his reign and couldn’t get access to the Swiss account which held the certificates, he went to Zurich and hacked his way in.
Silano introduced Roger Bryer to Raymond Jewitt. Later, he also met with Herbert Austin. That’s how things got complicated.
The Complicated Web of the Syndicate and Roger Bryer’s Involvement
2 weeks after the transfer of funds from Commerzbank to the ABN Amro account, other transactions started happening.
Someone named Friedrichs transferred $US4.4 million to different accounts in the Bahamas, Switzerland, Austria, and Indonesia. Then, an additional $10.1 million reached the National Australia Bank account which was under the control of Roger Bryer and his wife Yulia Bryer.
Through this account, he transferred some of the funds into two of his companies, Redbay Investments, and Warm Exports.
Later, he transferred some of the funds to the American bank accounts of his Gibraltar-based firms, Vista Blue and Propvest. Also, some of this money reached the account of disbarred US lawyer Donald G. Coffman Jr.
SOCA, Operation Torrens, and Roger Bryer
Clearly, it was a complicated scheme. According to England’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, investigators only found out that a big portion of the Commerzbank funds had arrived in Britain in 2006.
To investigate this matter and find the culprits, SOCA began Operation Torrens.
In 2012, SOCA tried, convicted, and jailed Austin and Jewitt for 8 and 3 years respectively.
It said that the syndicate believed it could avoid the attention of law enforcement agencies by spreading its funds through numerous global transactions. The group hoped that no single authority would have the overall responsibility for investigating the crime or would they have the resources.
SOCA proved to them that their assumptions were wrong.
The statements sounded good, for sure. But they didn’t reveal the Australian connection aka Roger Bryer.
Arrest and the Aftermath:
In 2006, the Australian Federal Police arrested Roger Bryer and interviewed him about his involvement in the money laundering syndicate. They secured Supreme Court orders to freeze a $3.2 million apartment in the Thermos building of Mount Street.
The apartment was under the ownership of Redbay Investments, one of Roger Bryer’s companies.
Authorities suspected that he had purchased that apartment through stolen funds.
According to US documents, which SOCA had filed as part of its investigation into the movement of money out of Roger’s companies, the money had reached Anthony Heald. Anthony is an English businessman who was already facing fraud investigations in the US and Britain.
SOCA said in its request for assistance that Bryer was denying knowledge of the funds being fraudulent.
Roger explained that Jewitt had placed the money with him for investment in Australia and he undertook it at Jewitt’s behest.
However, it’s been years since his arrest. Apart from Roger Bryer, everyone else involved in this syndicate has either been charged or thrown in jail.
When the authorities froze his property, Roger’s lawyer said that he was just a bona fide third party without notice of any impropriety in relation to the invested funds.
It’s been years since the investigations exposed this money laundering scam. However, there has been no update on this story for a decade now. Either the Australian authorities failed to investigate further or Roger Bryer paid someone off.
In any case, it’s vital that the authorities look into Roger’s financials and take stringent action in this regard.
Roger Bryer was able to get away with one of the largest international money laundering schemes scot-free. The Australian authorities must look into him and expose his nefarious schemes.
- Money laundering