Mackay businessman Michael Jon Saunders has denied fraud charges stemming from a missing boat. He applied to a magistrate to vary his bail in Mackay Court House.
Mackay businessman Michael Jon Saunders has denied fraud charges stemming from a missing boat. He applied to a magistrate to vary his bail in Mackay Court House. Jarred Sferruzzi

Dude, where's my boat? Missing vessel central to fraud case

A MACKAY businessman will fight serious fraud charges involving a missing boat by heading to the US in a bid to track down a mechanic, who has "gone to ground".

Michael Jon Saunders is accused of swindling a childhood mate out of $113,000 over a pet project.

Mackay Magistrates Court heard Mr Saunders and his friend had planned to import a boat from the US and sell it for a small profit.

But now the boat is allegedly missing, his friend is out of pocket his share of the importation cost and Mr Saunders has been charged with fraud, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

The Slade Point man has applied to vary his bail conditions to travel to San Antonio in Texas where the mechanic, who was hired to do rectification work on the boat, has apparently been spotted with the vessel.

And in an effort to put police prosecutions at ease his mother has offered up a $100,000 surety.

Barrister Adrian Braithwait, for Mr Saunders, said his client bought the boat in 2011 on the understanding between he and his friend that it needed substantial rectification work.

Mr Braithwait said the boat was sent to a mechanic in San Antonio for the repairs "and the mechanic's gone to ground".

"He's attempted to file a complaint with the San Antonio police ... but they won't take a complaint over the phone," Mr Braithwait said, adding that a reasonable hypothesis of the fraud case was that the boat never existed.

"He's going over to try and track down the boat.

"He's received information from the (import) agent ... who he believes has sighted it in possession of the mechanic, who was doing the rectification work who has disappeared.

"He wants to go over there, track it down, make a complaint to police and try and get it back."

Mr Braithwait added his client also wanted to travel to Indonesia in relation to his construction business.

"He imported previous to this boat in question, three boats from America. Imported them in and sold them for a modest profit," he said.

"The boat in question which is subject to the offence was to be another example of that."

Prosecutor Joshua Morris agreed to the bail variation only after the $100,000 surety was received. Mr Saunders must also supply copies of his full itinerary and proof of a return flight 72 hours before any travel.

Acting Magistrate John Aberdeen varied bail on those conditions.



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