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    The economy is tough right now and the job market, not so great, but it just goes to show that people will seemingly do just about anything for money if they think they can get away with it.

    The plot thickens and we may not know any more details until his trial begins next month as to why a man would attach a fake bomb to the neck of an innocent girl (Madeleine Pulver) in Australia. The arrest in La Grange of 50-year-old businessman Paul ''Doug'' Peters yesterday leaves a trail of questions yet to be answered.

    A former senior executive at Allco Finance, Peters is described by his peers as “passionate” and very aggressive in his approach to doing business, but at the same time “refined” and “old-fashioned.” The arrest has come as quite a shock to those who know him.

     Brought up in colonial Hong Kong and schooled in Sydney, colleagues say Peters greatly valued his relationship with his three teen-aged daughters, who live with his second wife in La Grange.

    ''I would be amazed if he's done what he's alleged to have done, if he was well and fit,'' a former Allco colleague, Frank Tearle, said yesterday.

    ''He's a rational, intelligent high-achiever.''

    Mr. Peters allegedly broke into an Australian home in Mosman on August 3, attaching a device to the neck of 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver, beginning a 10-hour standoff laced with demands. He was supposedly charged last night with counts of breaking and entering, kidnapping and demanding property with menace.

    Authorities are not commenting on any leads of motives but say that he was reportedly ''surprised'' when NSW, FBI and S.W.A.T. descended upon his location in La Grange.

    An extensive note was found with the fake bomb, which referenced James Clavell's book Tai Pan and included an e-mail address that police have traced the last access point to a location on the central coast, presumably a library where police have already seized a computer earlier in the investigation.

    It has been confirmed that financial demands were made in the 10-hour stand-off.

    There are no other suspects currently in the case and investigators are collecting evidence from a residence linked to Peters in Sydney.

    ''It's a fairly detailed chain of circumstantial evidence which has led us to making the arrest,'' Assistant Commissioner of NSW Dave Hudson said.

    Living overseas most of the time, Peters had reportedly been traveling to the US, trying to work out issues with his second wife.

    Peters had been a client for about four years of Tammy Schreiber – A hairdresser at Snips Hair Salon in Copacabana. Tammy says “Doug” would spend about six months at a time in the area and go back and forth to see his wife and his daughters.

    ''He was really nice, an average fellow but really very nice,’’ ‘‘He told me they were thinking of remarrying.''

    A friend in Kentucky has reportedly confirmed that the pair sometimes actually lived together in their five-bedroom home with their daughters. However, it was more common that Mrs. Peters would stay with family in New Jersey when Doug came to town and leave Doug with the three girls. ''They were definitely separated,'' says the friend.

    The house in La Grange has been for sale for six weeks now.

    After Allco collapsed in Australia, Peters created Douglas Corporation, but it too, fell apart and dissolved some time in 2009. Peters has been said to have been very frustrated as of late that people were not buying in to what he was trying to sell.

    ''I am absolutely flabbergasted,'' said a classmate of Peters’ from his time at Scots College. ''Paul was a fabulous part of our tight-knit crew,'' he said. A former girlfriend recalled him being part of a Scots gang known as the Muppets. ''They drove round in a white van and crashed people's parties and caused mayhem,'' she said.

    ''There was never anything in his psychology to suggest he might have done something like this,'' said another friend.

    Peters went on to study economics and law at Sydney University and in his own words from his LinkedIn profile, his “passion for Asia” led him to return to Hong Kong in 1988.

    He got into investment banking and became a specialist in tax-advantaged leveraged leasing in overseas jurisdictions.

    There is currently no hard evidence to support that Peters knew the Pulvers, but certain similarities between Mr. Peters and Mr. Pulvers tend to indicate there may be some unknown connections between the two.

    The Pulvers apparently own a beach house at Avoca Beach, which is just a minutes’ drive from Copacabana, where Mr. Peters liked to visit…and get his hair cut by Tammy.

    So, the trial is expected to begin the first week of September. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to believe Peters is guilty, but the question “Why?” still begs. Something tells me we will learn a lot more about this case in the weeks to come. In the meantime, if you have a job – be thankful for it. If you don’t have a job, keep working hard at improving yourself, your relationships with others and your skill set. Don’t make a bad decision and strap your proverbial fake bomb to an innocent girl and think it will solve your financial problems.

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    Michael Windle's picture

    About Michael Windle

    A fair-weather contributor to I enjoy music, golf and the beach - when I can get there.

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