Court hears of Qld movie studio plan and Israeli hit squad
AN ALLEGED conman behind a multi-million-dollar Sunshine Coast movie studio plan told an investor that Anthony Hopkins was on the books of the casting agency, a court has been told.
Australian investor Adam Hansen told the Auckland District Court today that he handed up to $170,000 to Loizos Michaels in the belief the money would be used to set up the studio in 2004.
Michaels has denied 31 Serious Fraud Office charges of deception connected to an alleged $3 million fraud.
Mr Hansen said he made a series of payments and was promised a $300,000 salary to work for Michaels as security and personal assistant.
But instead, he was left with no money, lost most of his possessions and his family was threatened, the court heard.
Mr Hansen said Michaels told him one of the companies Michaels set up was the Australian Casting Company.
He said Michaels told him that Anthony Hopkins was signed up to the agency.
Mr Hansen told Crown prosecutor Rachael Reed he never saw any documentation to prove it but Michaels had told him the star was onboard.
Michaels also spoke of a deal with film giant Warner Brothers.
Again, Mr Hansen had not seen any documentation.
Earlier, Mr Hansen told the court how Michaels had spoke of an Israeli squad being hired to put a 'hit' on Australian film executives.
"Michaels said there were some Israelis trying to put in a hit and they had a shotgun but his people had taken care of it."
He said Michaels told him to take the executive to a "safe house" which was actually the Sheraton hotel on the Sunshine Coast.
Michaels' lawyer Peter Kaye asked Mr Hansen if his evidence was "all fantasy"?
Mr Hansen responded: "No fantasy here."
He confirmed under questioning that all the money he handed to Michaels went through other people.
Mr Kaye asked if he was "mesmerised" by Michaels' ideas.
Mr Hansen responded: "I would put it, that we all like to follow our dreams."
On Monday, the court heard how Mr Hansen put some of his money into envelopes and hid them on the floor of a luxury Marcos sports car that Michaels was driving.
He told the court that most of the money came from the sale of his investment property. When that was gone, Michaels asked him to find other investors. He even took money from children's money jar.
Michaels told him the money would be used to finance the movie studio and he would one day receive a 30 to 40 euro return on each Australian cent he invested.
"I said I was very nervous and doubtful about the outcome. He said not to be doubtful because it was part of my test in humility and honour."
Michaels also spoke of his connections to the Japanese criminal underworld.
Mr Hansen said in the early days of the film company an associate died of a heart attack but Michaels said the man had been killed by the Japanese Yakuza.
"He led us to believe that [the man's] heart attack wasn't a heart attack but was a lethal injection from people he knew, and an example of some of the things he could do."
He told the court Michaels also spoke of family ties to the Cyprus mafia and a cruise ship company.
There were plans to buy a gold mine and to open a casino onboard a cruise ship off the Sunshine Coast.
Michaels also allegedly promised Mr Hansen a house on Queensland's exclusive Sovereign Island so he could entertain international investors and film stars.
Mr Hansen said Michaels told him to pack up his house on the Sunshine Coast and get ready for the move. Mr Hansen said he did as he was told but after three days the removal truck was repossessed and he lost most of his possessions.
He told the court how later he insisted Michaels show him some "good faith" and return some of his money.
"He asked me do I know who I'm talking to and if I didn't do what he told me to do then I better watch out for my family."
Despite the threat, Mr Hansen agreed to fly to Townsville in Queensland where Michaels told him a ship connected to the new international cruise line company was coming in.
Ten days after arriving in Townsville, there was no boat.
The trial continues.