Ian Lazar engaged in criminal activity for a decade, court told

Ian Lazar was arrested on Thursday for allegedly defrauding an elderly woman whom he saw on A Current Affair. Photo: Police MediaA colourful Sydney financier accused of defrauding an elderly woman of her home has engaged in criminal activity for a decade, a court has been told.

Ian Lazar appeared before Sydney’s Central Local Court on Friday charged with obtain financial advantage by deception after being arrested on Thursday outside the North Sydney apartment block where he lives with his pregnant fiancee.

Police allege that the 43-year-old lender of last resort fraudulently obtained ownership of the elderly woman’s Nambucca home after he saw her detailing her financial woes on A Current Affair in July 2003.

During a bail application the court heard that Mr Lazar’s alleged victim was 88 years old at the time of the offence and that after she was evicted in 2009, she died homeless.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Vanessa Robichaux told the court that Mr Lazar was part of a “larger criminal organisation” and there were a number of other victims of the group.

A number of Crown witnesses had also been threatened about coming forward to make complaints, she said.

The court was told that police will allege Mr Lazar has been engaging in criminality for 10 years.

But Mr Lazar’s barrister, Richard Mitry, told the court if that was the case then police should have arrested him earlier.

Mr Mitry said his client had instead been the victim of a campaign against him by police and the media which was fuelled by disgruntled investors who couldn’t afford to repay Mr Lazar.

He also denied that Mr Lazar was part of a criminal group, telling the court that many of those to whom he is alleged to have links were engaged in legal disputes with him.

Mr Mitry said Mr Lazar should be granted bail because he had known for “two to three years” that he was the subject of a police investigation and had not fled during that time.

But Magistrate Mark Buscombe refused bail, saying Mr Lazar posed a an unacceptable risk as he was concerned about allegations that threatening emails had been sent to a potential witness.

Police will allege that after seeing the woman on A Current Affair, Mr Lazar contacted the show, claiming to be backed by community-minded investors who wanted to pay off the woman’s debts as an act of generosity.

After being put in touch with the woman it is alleged that Mr Lazar and an associate made arrangements to pay off the woman’s debts.

But when she went to sell her home in 2006 and move to the Southern Highlands to be closer to family she discovered the property had been transferred into the name of a company she did not know.

When she contacted Mr Lazar she was told there had been a mix-up and that it would be resolved. But it was not and in 2009 she was evicted from her home.

The case against Mr Lazar returns to court in January.

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