A 63-YEAR-OLD Peregian Springs real estate agent has been released on bail after facing court on fraud charges involving about $86,000.
Geoffrey James Leadley, a former owner of the ReMax Noosa franchise, has been away in New Zealand for some weeks but was arrested when he arrived back in Australia on Thursday. His wife remains in New Zealand.
Leadley appeared in Maroochydore Magistrates Court last Thursday on three fraud charges, one of them relating to an amount "over $30,000".
The court heard the charges related to anomalies in financial transactions for a number of bodies corporate with which he was involved.
They followed the closure by Leading of his business earlier this year, and intentions to "relocate to New Zealand".
In applying for bail, his lawyer Robert Burns noted that the matters would likely require forensic analysis of a number of financial transactions, which could take considerable time.
He argued that the length of time could very well exceed the time his client would be imprisoned if he were to be found guilty.
Mr Burns added that while the investigating officer had "loosely noted that the evidence is strong", he said he had not had a chance to make his own determination.
Acting Magistrate Andrew Walker noted that while the charges were serious and "can carry terms of imprisonment if found guilty", Leadley had no criminal history, had property in Australia and had agreed to surrender his passport.
He released Leadley on bail, with twice-weekly reporting, and was ordered not to go within 1000 metres of any international departure point.
He also agreed to stay at the house of a friend, known as Mr Early, in Nambour.
"He is surprised by these events. It is out of character, it came as a shock," Mr Burns said of Leadley's friend's reaction to the charges.
Leadley's next court appearance is September 26.
Leading initially arrived in Australia in 2002 and established his own real estate business.
He is a former member of the Society of Chartered Accountants. It was reported on April 7 that Leadley's franchise contract with ReMax Australia had been terminated.