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July 22, 2011
The fraud squad's highest-profile arrest … Felix Lyle, centre, with his legal team, is greeted by Strike Force Apia officers at Surry Hills police station. Photo: James Brickwood
FRAUD charges, once the domain of white-collar criminals, seem to be becoming a regular feature in Sydney's underworld.
Felix Lyle, or Big F as the bikie boss is sometimes called, became the latest and undoubtedly the highest-profile accused when he was charged yesterday as part of the NSW fraud squad's investigation into a multimillion-dollar fraud ring.
Handing himself in to detectives by appointment, the Hells Angel chief shunned the outlaw motorcycle gang's preferred two-wheeled mode of transport. Instead, the 54-year-old arrived at the Sydney Police Centre, Surry Hills, in a late-model Mercedes-Benz.
After being interviewed by officers from Strike Force Apia, Mr Lyle was charged with serious fraud offences valued at a total of $2.3 million.
The charges relate to alleged attempted fraudulent financing of earth-moving equipment, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and an inner-city property.
Mr Lyle is the 16th person to be arrested by Strike Force Apia detectives, who have laid more than 100 charges relating to a total of $15 million in fraudulent loans.
The bikie boss's arrest follows that of his associate Terrence Reddy, otherwise known as the Black Prince. A fortnight ago, a Sydney court heard that Mr Reddy had been ''covertly monitored for a significant period of time and it is evident he engages in 'setting up deals' and putting people together to finance short- and long-term loans using fraudulent documents''.
Mr Lyle, who was born in New Zealand in 1957, has alarmed law enforcement agencies after triggering a large-scale defection of rival bikie gang members. Police sources have been worried about the possibility of large-scale warfare between rival outlaw motorcycle gangs after the Hells Angels paid $6 million to entice 60 Bandido members to swap clubs this year.
There has been much bad blood between Mr Lyle and the Bandidos. In 2002 the Hells Angels boss was drummed out of the Bandidos for allegedly being ''not of good character''.
The Bandidos chief responsible for his expulsion, Rodney ''Hooks'' Monks, was later shot dead by Mr Lyle's friend Russell Oldham. Three weeks after murdering Monk, Oldham waded into the sea at Balmoral Beach and shot himself in the head.
Mr Lyle is due to appear in court today. His son, Dallas Fitzgerald, will be sentenced next week for his part in the audacious attempted $150 million sting on the JPMorgan Bank.