Foster’s legal team applied for his bail in Southport Magistrates Court on the Gold Coast on Friday, and he was released from a Brisbane prison where he has spent the past five months.
Foster, 59, was arrested in 2020 for multiple fraud-related offences in dramatic scenes on a Port Douglas beach in far north Queensland, which were captured by waiting TV cameras.
He had allegedly posed as his legitimate business partner Bill Dawson when he launched an online sports betting scam that saw a Hong Kong-based pilot transfer him almost $2 million in Bitcoin.
Foster allegedly received the money in several transactions between April 2019 and January 2020, in amounts ranging from $125,961.50 to $890,187.50.
He was extradited from Cairns to Sydney in August 2020 on five charges of fraud, two counts of dealing with identification information and one count of using false records.
But he later failed to appear for a Sydney court hearing and police used information from banks to trace his activity over several months until he was found at a Victorian property.
Australian Federal Police arrested Foster in December 2021 on a hobby farm near Gisborne, about 55 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. He was extradited from Victoria to Queensland.
He faces the same $2 million Bitcoin scam allegations alleged in NSW courts, with the case transferred to Queensland to prosecute.
On Friday, Foster’s barrister Russell Pearce conceded it would be “churlish” of him to say “there is no risk with Mr Foster”, but he said Foster absconding from NSW to Victoria was “not a simple case”.
Pearce argued on the day Foster ditched his ankle tracking bracelet, he got warning in advance that charges against him would be dropped in the Sydney court, so he fled beforehand while still on bail.
Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook told the court Foster ditched his tracking bracelet at 11.37am, but his charges were not officially dropped in court until 2pm.
However, crucially, Foster was never officially charged with breaching his bail conditions by not being in the Sydney court that day.
Cook argued Foster had been convicted of 11 dishonesty offences in four countries in the past, and he had assumed 20 known aliases over the years.
Cook said Foster had also previously been convicted of falsifying passports, interfering with witnesses, and escaping custody.
Magistrate Janice Crawford said it was a “difficult decision”, but she granted Foster bail.
She said a number of allegations against him were contested, and she did not have access to the full details of the case against him at this stage.
However, Foster was released under strict conditions.
He must live with his sister at Mount Tamborine – inland from the Gold Coast, report to police three days a week, wear an ankle monitoring bracelet, not travel more than 50 kilometres from his sister’s home, abide by a curfew, and not leave the state or country.
Foster’s case will be mentioned in Southport Magistrates Court again on June 16.