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Ex-Billabong CEO in 'riches to rags' tale

AAP logoAAP 13/12/2016 Rachael Burnett

The then-wife of Billabong boss Matthew Perrin thought he was going to admit he had been unfaithful again when he confessed, "I've done a lot of bad things".

But he replied "no, it's much worse than that" and told her "I've lost everything", including their $15 million, waterfront home.

Nicole Bricknell dramatically broke down in the witness box as she described how the multi-millionaire couple went belly-up after Perrin allegedly used the Surfers Paradise house as security for $13.5 million credit from the Commonwealth Bank.

Perrin and wife Nicole Bricknell allegedly made $33 million from their investment in the popular surfwear company in the late 1990s.

They enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle for a number of years that included overseas holidays, $10,000-a-month living expenses and the gift of a $75,000 car to her husband, she told the Brisbane District Court.

It all fell apart after Perrin allegedly used their luxury Surfers Paradise home as bank security.

The former CEO is now on trial for fraud and forgery after allegedly faking his wife's signature on the paperwork in 2008.

The couple had designed and built their property together as a "forever home" for them and their three children, Ms Bricknell said.

The trial had to be temporarily halted on Tuesday when she broke down in tears and began hyperventilating.

She said Perrin called the family together and wept as he confessed: "I'm going to jail. I've done a lot of bad things".

Ms Bricknell said he had previously promised her that the house was in her name and was safe after she discovered he had been having an affair.

She initially thought he was going to admit he had been unfaithful again but he replied "it's much worse than that".

"He said 'I've lost everything'," she added.

"I said 'No, no, it's OK we've still got our house, we're fine'. He said 'no you don't understand me'."

Perrin started "shaking and crying" as he explained they were going to lose their custom-built house, the court heard.

Ms Bricknell said she thought they had no financial worries and more than $75 million in assets.

She told the court she didn't know what he was doing and never gave him authority to sign her name.

The former beautician said her husband dealt with all their finances while she stayed at home looking after their three children.

She said she thought he was "dabbling" in the stockmarket and had no idea his trades totalled $461 million or that he had been increasing his debts with the bank.

He was declared bankrupt in 2009 after his investments collapsed.

Perrin admits signing his former wife's name but claims he had her permission to do so.

He is also accused of faking his brother Fraser Perrin's signature as a witness on the paperwork.

Perrin denies nine charges of forgery and three of fraud.

The trial's second day concluded early on Tuesday afternoon when a juror collapsed and had to be assisted from the court.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

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