Fraud charges for ex Billabong chief

A FORMER Billabong surf wear company chief is facing fraud charges for allegedly stealing $13.5 million from a bank through forged signatures.

Matthew Perrin, 40, is accused of forging his wife's and another family member's signatures on documents relating to mortgages taken over his family's Cronin Island home.

Perrin, who served as Billabong chief from 1999 to 2002, was granted bail when he faced Brisbane Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Police asked the court to order Perrin, from the Gold Coast, to surrender his passport but lawyer Peter Shields argued his client needed to take an overseas trip. He said handing over a passport was "more onerous than is necessary", noting his client had no criminal history and strong ties to Queensland.

Mr Shields said his client, who planned to enter a not guilty plea, had co-operated with police since an investigation began in September 2009.

He said Perrin was not a flight risk, having attended all previous court appearances relating to liquidation and bankruptcy proceedings.

Magistrate Anne Thacker said Perrin wanted to attend a wedding overseas and then holiday abroad but she was influenced by the "extraordinary amount of money involved".

"There is no compelling reason for him to leave the country," she said.

She granted him bail but ordered he surrender his passport and stay away from international departure points.

Perrin is not allowed to have access to his former wife Nicole Bricknell who the court heard would be one of the key witnesses in the case.

The charges - from June to August, 2008 - arose after a three-year State Fraud and Corporate Crime Group investigation.

Outside court, Mr Shields said he would not comment on the facts of the case until he had seen the brief of evidence.

He said his client planned to plead not guilty and face a trial with a jury.

"No one likes being charged but the good thing about it is that it starts a process," he said.

"And if someone's asserting their innocence, as Matthew is, then until you're before the court you don't have any opportunity to show your case and answer what have been public criticisms of him.

"He's not a flight risk. Matthew hasn't hidden, he hasn't sought to flee ... Matthew has always been available and always been willing to assist in the investigations."

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