Lawyers for a luxury jeweller charged with orchestrating a robbery at his own business say the case is going to “fall apart” after a court was told $2.8 million in stolen jewellery is still missing.
Michel Germani, 65, is accused of faking the robbery at the Germani Jewellery store on George St in the Sydney CBD on the evening of January 19 in an alleged attempt to defraud his insurer.
He was charged with aggravated robbery and depriving a person of liberty, attempting to dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception, publishing false misleading material to obtain property, and participating in a criminal group contributing to criminal activity.
According to court documents, he is accused of making a false statement after the robbery and intended to claim insurance worth more than $2.8m.
Mr Germani appeared via audiovisual link at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday dressing in his prison greens, while his barrister John Korn applied for bail on his behalf.
A police prosecutor told the court there were two main “unacceptable risks” if the 65-year-old were to be on bail, including a risk of interfering with the alleged victims and witnesses, and a risk of fleeing the country.
The court was told there is ongoing “telephone intercept material” which allege Mr Germani’s “knew” about the robbery and “showed his complicity”.
The prosecutor told the court a witness came forward to police and alleged they were contacted by Mr Germani to have them organise “or take part in a robbery with very similar detail to the one that took place on January 19”.
“In terms of evidence, there is around $2.8 million worth of stolen jewellery still outstanding from the robbery,” the prosecutor said.
“Mr Germani’s release, given police do not know the whereabouts, may result in the loss of evidence.”
The court was told Mr Germani had also deleted correspondence with people connected to the alleged robbery, which was “done in an effort, we say, to deceive police”.
Mr Korn told the court Mr Germani and his family are under a “great deal of financial stress and difficulty” as he is not running his business.
He did not agree with the prosecution that the case is “strong”, saying he has doubts police will be “capable of proving it”.
Mr Korn said his client is “not of a tender age” and has been running a business in Sydney since at least 1985, with no criminal record.
“The wife and the child really depend entirely upon him … without him they are going to be in a desperate position,” Mr Korn said.
A total of seven sureties worth a total of $105,000 were put up by multiple people in an attempt to get Mr Germani on bail.
However, Magistrate Daniel Covington did not accept the case was weak and said given there is still $2.8 million of jewellery still missing, the surety “is not of as much significance as it otherwise would be”.
He said there is a suggestion of a “highly organised operation” but there are a number of pieces of outstanding evidence.
Mr Covington refused the application for release, with Mr Germani taking off his glasses and shaking his head in disbelief.
Outside court Mr Korn said he was “unequivocally disappointed”, with Mr Germani holding up “very poorly in prison” given his age.
He expressed outrage at the decision, claiming the decision “wasn’t well reasoned” and Mr Germani was “grossly insulted” by the allegations.
“This case, in my opinion, is just going to fall apart when police start digging into it,” Mr Korn told reporters.
“Putting a person in jail for 18 months to two years is inimical to our system of justice.”
Police allege Mr Germani was at the store with another staff member assisting two male customers who had an appointment on the evening of January 19.
Mr Germani initially told police one of the men allegedly pulled out a knife and threatened his female employee, while the other customer allegedly threatened him and demanded access to the safe.
Both staff members were allegedly restrained before the two men fled the store.
Police attended the store and began investigating before referring the matter to the robbery and serious crime squad under Strike Force Ingestre.
Detectives arrested two men, aged 37 and 57, in April and they remain before the courts.
Mr Germani was arrested at Day Street Police Station on May 8 and charged.
NSW Police allege the store owner was involved in planning and co-ordinating the robbery in an attempt to defraud an insurance company.
Investigations under Strike Force Ingestre continue.