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Groves successful in passport bid

Eddy Groves

Eddy Groves Photo: Amelia Bentley

Former ABC Learning Centres boss Eddy Groves said he would be out of the country for no longer than three weeks after he was granted the return of his passport yesterday.

Mr Groves successfully applied to have his bail conditions altered to allow him to personally manage his properties in the United States and Canada.

Outside court yesterday afternoon, Mr Groves said he intends to leave for the US in the next fortnight for a "maximum of three weeks".

"I've just got to take care of a few things and then I'll be back," he told brisbanetimes.com.au.

Mr Groves said he wanted to ready his Nevada property for sale and also speak with prospective buyers of his investment unit in Canada.

He also wanted to explore an employment opportunity with someone who had offered him a consulting position.

Last week, Supreme Court Justice Peter Lyons ordered Mr Groves' passport be returned after the fallen entrepreneur made an application to vary the conditions of his bail.

Crown prosecutors appealed Mr Lyons' decision late this afternoon in a last-ditch bid to stop Mr Groves leaving the country, as they prepared to lay a further criminal charge against the embattled businessman.

However, Justice Catherine Holmes upheld the Supreme Court decision, saying Mr Lyons had given proper consideration to Mr Groves' application.

Mr Groves, who sat in the public gallery with his wife, quietly muttered 'yes' as Ms Holmes delivered her judgment.

Mr Groves' passport will be returned to him on the condition he give the Australian Securities and Investments Commission seven days notice of his departure; return to Australia when required by ASIC; and inform ASIC of any changes to his travel itinerary.

This afternoon, the Crown claimed Mr Lyons failed to properly consider the risk that Mr Groves – a Canadian citizen – would flee the country.

Crown prosecutor Michael Copley, SC, argued there were no "compelling reasons" for Mr Groves to travel overseas.

"He faces a serious charge with the possibility of jail time," Mr Copley said.

"He is a Canadian citizen. He has assets in Canada and the United States, and he has a bank account available to him in the state of Nevada ...

"He has assets which could be liquidated and a bank account that could sustain him ...

"He's not your average Australian citizen."

Mr Groves' defence barrister Peter Davis, SC, argued his client's bail conditions were unduly onerous, saying Mr Groves had no more than $2700 in his US bank account.

"He hasn't got his passport. He hasn't got the right to travel overseas and do what he wants to do," Mr Davis said.

"He's been kept here for three years."

He argued Mr Groves' reasons for travelling abroad were "genuine", despite being considered by the Crown to be uncompelling.

"He's been here since he was four years of age," Mr Davis said.

"All of his family is here and he's engaged in litigation here."

Mr Davis said his client should have the right to travel, as there was little risk he would not return to Australia.

"It was always going to boil down to a contest between the right to travel and the risk of flight," he said.

Mr Groves' passport was seized when he was granted bail in relation to his forthcoming trial over allegations he breached the Corporations Act by using his position dishonestly as a director.

This charge arose from a two-year investigation after ABC Learning collapsed beneath $1.6 billion of debt in November 2008.

The Crown is now determining whether to pursue proceedings over allegations he siphoned $81.5 million into the ABC group's acquisitions arm during the company's collapse.

Mr Davis has previously said there is no suggestion his client personally received any of the money.

The Crown is expected to launch a full appeal against the decision as soon as possible.

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