Australia speeds up probe on alleged $65 million gold scam

Australia speeds up probe on alleged $65 million gold scam

Correction: This story originally ran with a incorrect image and incorrectly identified one company which was not involved. Read the retraction here.

Australian authorities believe they have identified key individuals connected to a $61 million (A$65m) alleged tax fraud among gold bullion companies.

The investigation into what is considered one the country’s largest organized tax frauds in history began last October, with federal investigators saying the scam involved altering or mislabelling pure gold bullion bars and coins, which are legally not taxed. Some wrongly labeled scrap gold, which is taxed at 10%, was also found to have been used by firms to claim a Good and Service Tax (GST) tax credit.

According to unnamed industry sources quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald, the fraud figure exceeds the A$200 million.

So far authorities have issued garnishee notices and GST amended assessments with liabilities of more than A$130 million, but they have not provided names, nor said how many companies are supposed to have been involved.

Documents filed in two civil lawsuits in Queensland's Supreme Court provided Tuesday further clues into the case, as the documents contain allegations embroiling several players in Australia's precious metals market, the SMH reported.

One of them, the paper said, is Brisbane Gold Trader Robert Bourke, who declared to be a middleman in a network of gold suppliers. He said his involvement began after he started doing business with MAK Precious Metals of Melbourne. Bourke alleged he sourced and transported dozens — sometimes hundreds — of kilos of gold weekly.

Bourke's gold trading business collapsed in April, with corporate liquidators estimating suppliers and investors are owed more than $14.5 million in gold and cash.

The Australian Crime Commission and Tax Office and the Federal Police said the unfolding scandal probe is still ongoing.

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