A man accused of being a "money collector" for Michael and Fadi Ibrahim claims he acted under duress and the one time he did not obey orders he had his head shaved and eyebrows plucked out.
Jaron Chester, 34, appeared in Sydney Local Court today after being arrested on Tuesday as part of an alleged international drug and tobacco syndicate, which police said involved several members of the Ibrahim family and their associates.
The luxury travel agent is accused of transferring $1.45 million on behalf of Michael and Fadi Ibrahim in an effort to disguise their alleged illegal activities.
"[Chester] acted as a money collector and handler for the Ibrahim family by receiving bank transfers and withdrawing that money in large sums of cash," the prosecutor told the court.
"It was done in the interests of distancing the Ibrahim brothers Michael and Fadi Ibrahim from the transactions."
Police allege Chester would transfer large sums of money, then go to the Commonwealth Bank to make cash withdrawals — one as high as $250,000.
The court was told the cash he withdrew would then be passed on to the Ibrahim brothers.
The prosecutor said police have CCTV images, telephone intercept recordings and surveillance information to support their allegations.
Chester's barrister Charles Waterstreet told the court his client "had acted under duress".
Mr Waterstreet said that on one occasion, Chester kept $30,000 of the Ibrahim's money in order to pay his parents' rent and intended to pay it back later, but when Michael Ibrahim found out he bashed him, shaved his head and plucked out all of his eyebrows to keep as "trophies".
"When he dared to go against orders ... he was punished and ridiculed and bashed," Mr Waterstreet told the court.
"He was a man under the order of the family and when he breached those orders he was punished."
Prosecutors say Chester was not under duress, but someone the Ibrahim's trusted to handle such large amounts of money.
Chester was supported in court by his family as well as Rabbi Yehoram Ulman who supplied a written character reference in support of his bail application.
"He is a very sweet boy, I gave a reference, he is very well known in the community," Rabbi Ulman said.
Magistrate Clare Farnan refused Chester's application for bail saying she thought the Crown had a "strong case".