Veteran reporter Steve Barrett will "vigorously" defend himself against accusations he blackmailed alleged members of a $144 million tax fraud syndicate, his lawyer says.
Barrett, a former 60 Minutes and long-time Seven Network employee, has faced a Sydney court for the first time after he was charged in relation to the alleged ATO fraud.
The 60-year-old didn't comment as he left the Downing Centre Local Court after his brief mention on Tuesday, with his lawyer speaking on his behalf.
"I think it's not appropriate for me to say anything at this stage. It's a matter before the court, but the matters will be defended vigorously," Andrew O'Brien told reporters.
Barrett is among 14 people charged over the alleged fraud said to involve a syndicate of companies with straw directors.
He is accused of making an unwarranted demand "with the intention of obtaining a gain by an accusation, or a threatened accusation, that a person had committed a serious indictable offence", his charge sheet says.
Others charged over the alleged fraud - which is said to have rorted millions from the Commonwealth by withholding PAYG tax - include Adam and Lauren Cranston, the adult children of then-deputy tax commissioner Michael Cranston.
Cranston Snr, who police believe may have been unwittingly implicated at the request of his son, has also been charged with abusing public office to gain an advantage and is scheduled to face trial next year.
Barrett, under the bail conditions he agreed to on Tuesday, can't contact any of the 30-plus alleged straw directors referred to in a list filed in court.
He must live at a northern Sydney address and notify the Australian Federal Police at least a week before any overseas travel, with a detailed itinerary of his plans.
His matter is due back in court on October 2.