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'Billion-dollar tradie' Phillip Harrison would be on Rich List if claims true

28 March 2016 4:23 AM
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If ice-smoking carpenter-bricklayer Phillip Harrison has $596 million in the bank, that alone would make him the third richest Australian under 40. Never mind the extra billions he claimed to have had in property.

But is Mr Harrison, 29, really in a position to rival the youthful co-founders of the $8 billion software company Atlassian?

Police first heard his brags after they pulled him over for alleged dangerous driving in an Audi sports car on the Sunshine Coast on Friday.

Mr Harrison, from Tewantin, a suburb of Noosa, was allegedly found with 12 grams of methylamphetamine as well as MDMA powder and viagra.

His duty lawyer, Nick Hanly, was considering a request for his client to undergo a mental health assessment because he seemed delusional.

But the claims to colossal wealth appeared partly validated when Mr Hanly used Mr Harrison's username and password to log into what was supposedly his online Commonwealth Bank account.

It contained more than half a billion dollars, the Brisbane Magistrates Court heard on Saturday.

"It's one of the most bizarre cases I have ever come across," Mr Hanly said.

But could one man amass that much money without apparently owning companies or property?

A search of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission register of companies returns no matches for a Phillip Harrison close to the right age.

A search of a public property database is similarly disappointing. No Queensland property listed in the name of a Phillip Harrison has sold for more than $400,000.

But a legitimate Commonwealth Bank app could also be used to trick someone, given the ability to manipulate share portfolio value.

The CommSec app relies on self-reported data so if one wishes to record $10,000 Apple shares, that value will display.

On his arrest, Mr Harrison was reported to have said he had $1.56 billion worth of property.

But outside court, he told the ABC that his lawyer misunderstood his instructions, which were that he had $1.2 million in property.

"My lawyer was delusional, I told him not to say it, duty solicitor not very good," he said.

Mr Harrison said confidentiality agreements prevented him from explaining the source of his wealth but he denied it was from drugs.

"How would I make billions in drugs without being caught?" he said outside court.

"My investments, my ideas in cars, apps, trade, I sold them overseas, have been for years."

Based on last year's BRW Rich 200 list, Mr Harrison's bank balance would place him at 86.


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