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Passports returned to Qld fraud suspects

AAP logoAAP 12/09/2016 Sarah Motherwell

A former Queensland police officer and son charged over an alleged $19 million cold call investment fraud have had their passports returned.

Michael and Zach Featherstone are fighting money laundering and fraud charges relating to so-called boiler room syndicates on the Gold Coast.

Zoei Keong, Michael's wife, and associate Travis Charles Burch are also charged over the alleged scams, which are believed to have taken up to $19 million from more than 800 victims.

The case against the four, and several others, is of such complexity and size that it is thought to be the largest brief of evidence ever assembled by the fraud squad in Queensland.

Featherstone and his son successfully applied in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday to have their bail conditions altered, including allowing them to travel overseas for work.

Prosecutors had opposed the pair having their passports returned, concerned they have funds hidden in an offshore bank account that would help them flee overseas.

The court heard the Crown could so far prove the scams had netted almost $5.8 million, of which just less than $1 million has been recovered, leaving a substantial amount of money still missing.

But defence lawyer Alastair McDougall denied the family had hidden funds and were suffering "significant financial hardship" as their assets had been frozen.

They have also qualified for Legal Aid, meaning their defence and any trial, which is estimated to take up to three months, would be paid with taxpayers' money.

Mr McDougall said Michael Featherstone had strong family ties to Queensland, including a young teenage daughter and would not forfeit seeing her grow up.

Keong also applied to have her passport returned so she could go on holiday but Magistrate Barry Cosgrove found that was not a good enough reason.

Magistrate Cosgrove also changed the quartet's bail so that private investigators could be hired by the defence team to investigate witnesses in the case.

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