Aussie 'brickie' with assets of $2b

PHILLIP JOHNATHAN HARRISON
PHILLIP JOHNATHAN HARRISON

Bricklayer on drug charges says he's not at liberty to reveal source of wealth

BRISBANE • An Australian court yesterday heard that a bricklayer and carpenter on drug charges had assets of A$2 billion (S$2 billion), putting him in the same league as Harvey Norman co-founder Gerry Harvey, mining magnate Andrew Forrest and property and construction king Lang Walker, the media reported.

The court-appointed lawyer for Phillip Johnathan Harrison said he had checked his client's online banking account and it showed a cash balance of A$596 million and a property portfolio of A$1.56 billion, News.com.au, an Australian news site, reported.

"I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes," Mr Nick Hanly said, adding that he had wanted to get "mental health to come in" when Mr Harrison, 29, disclosed his wealth.

"It's one of the most bizarre cases I have ever come across," Mr Hanly told the Brisbane Magistrates Court. "Now, given the context of his apparent vast wealth, this doesn't appear so delusional."

The court yesterday granted Harrison bail on condition that he surrender his passport, one day after police pulled him over in an Audi sports car and found ice, Viagra and Ecstasy.

JACK OF ALL TRADES?

How would I make billions in drugs without being caught? My investments, my ideas in cars, apps, trade, I sold them overseas, have been for years.

PHILLIP JOHNATHAN HARRISON

He has been charged with seven offences including possession of drugs and unlawful use of a motor vehicle. He will appear in court again on April 18, the Brisbane Times reported.

Harrison had been using ice because of personal turmoil over a relationship breakdown with the mother of his two-year-old daughter, the court was told.

When asked by his lawyer how he had amassed such a huge sum of money, Harrison reportedly replied that "he wasn't at liberty to say". But he said the sports car had been "given to him", the Brisbane Times said.

Outside court, he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) he made his money from shares and overseas sources, not drugs. "How would I make billions in drugs without being caught? My investments, my ideas in cars, apps, trade, I sold them overseas, have been for years," he said.

He also accused his lawyer of misunderstanding his instructions. He said he told Mr Handly he had A$1.2 million in property, not billion. "My lawyer was delusional, I told him not to say it, duty solicitor not very good," he told the ABC.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 27, 2016, with the headline 'Aussie 'brickie' with assets of $2b'. Print Edition | Subscribe