Hundreds of investors in an international gambling syndicate run by notorious conman Peter Foster could lose millions of dollars following his dramatic arrest at a luxury property near Byron Bay on Tuesday morning.
Foster is believed to have operated the Sports Trading Club while hiding from the Australian Crime Commission and other law enforcement agencies on the NSW north coast since September last year.
When NSW Police executed federal warrants at the Ewingsdale house on Tuesday afternoon, Foster attempted to flee before he crashed into a neighbour’s fence and was tackled by an officer. He was charged with assaulting a police officer after allegedly grabbing his gun.
A source said Foster had six mobile phones and several computers in a home office that revealed he was a key player in a syndicate that claims to have offices in London, Sydney and Hong Kong.
“It doesn’t matter what they claim on their website, Fosters’ home in Byron Bay was the headquarters. This is another massive scam that is only coming to light now. It will collapse like a house of cards,” the source said.
Foster’s role with Sports Trading Club is expected to trigger an investigation into the structure of the highly secretive business, which uses a Panama-based “privacy protection service” to conceal the identity of the company behind the online gambling scheme.
Sports Trading Club, also known as STC Sports Trading Club and The Sports Trading Club Partnership, takes investments between $50,000 and $250,000, which is punted on international sporting events.
The company’s UK communication manager, Patrick McMahon, claimed in June that Australian investors had received a 1900 per cent return since January 2013.
“We don’t gamble, we trade. We make money out of other people’s mistakes. When one side gambles and the other trades, it is like owning the casino,” Mr McMahon said in a media statement.
In July, Sports Trading Club claimed to have reaped $150 million by backing Germany to win the World Cup in Brazil, while betting against favourites Serena Williams and Novac Djokovic at the 2014 Australian Open also earned a “multi-million-dollar win”.
A source said the company had received more than $10 million from private investors over the past month alone.
Repeated requests for comment from Sports Trading Club, which operates from a serviced office in Sydney’s Market Street, were not answered. The local partner fronting the business is Anne Patricia Larter, who refused to comment.
Head of investor relations in the UK, David Lee, also failed to respond to requests for comment.
The company’s bona fides had already been challenged last year when it was revealed that at least two senior executives had used fake images on their Linked In profiles. The gambling syndicate has also been caught fabricating quotes from a deceased Princeton economist to spruik their business.
Foster was previously involved with an almost identical gambling business called Sportalists, which shut down its website after an expose on A Current Affair in 2012. Sports Trading Club was founded two months later.
On Wednesday, the renowned scam artist appeared before the Tweed Heads Local Court in NSW and pleaded guilty to assaulting police and resisting arrest during the raids in Ewingsdale.
Foster’s lawyer said his client did not realise he had grabbed at the officer’s gun during the dramatic arrest, which was captured by a Channel 9 camera crew.
He claimed to have suffered chest pains after his arrest and appeared in court in a hospital gown. Foster’s lawyer said he been “living like a monk” in the $1340 a week luxury rental property, but Fairfax Media understands he was in regular contact with his mother and girlfriend, who both live on the Gold Coast.
Foster has been on the lam since last September after breaching his bail conditions over charges stemming from a dodgy weight-loss scheme linked to Melbourne underworld figure Mick Gatto and his business associate John Khoury.
In February 2014, Interpol issued an international alert on Foster after he sent images to Fairfax Media showing him drinking kava, reading a local newspaper and purporting to be in Fiji.
Foster, who has served prison sentences in the US, Britain, Vanuatu and Australia, was banned by the Federal Court in 2005 from any involvement in the weight-loss industry.
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 well-being.
Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, was embroiled in scandal in 2004 when the London tabloids revealed Foster has served as a financial adviser in the purchase of two apartments in Bristol.
Foster is set to be extradited to Queensland to serve a minimum 18-month prison sentence for contempt of court.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.