15 Aug 2008

Vanuatu-based accountant arrested in Australia on fraud charge

12:40 pm on 15 August 2008

A Vanuatu-based accountant with links to KPMG has been arrested in Australia on a charge of fraud relating to about nine million US dollars.

The newspaper, the Australian, reports that Brian Fox has appeared in a Magistrates Court, facing a charge of conspiracy to defraud which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years' jail.

The charge against Mr Fox is that between 1999 and 2001 he conspired with five other men in an asset-stripping scheme allegedly designed to help Australian companies avoid paying their tax bills.

Two of those men have also been charged.

Mr Fox and his co-conspirators allegedly used an intricate network of companies in Australia and Vanuatu to avoid detection.

Australian Federal Police say 69 companies have been linked to the scheme.

Earlier this year, the Australian police arrested another Vanuatu-based businessman Robert Agius in Perth as part of the ongoing money-laundering sting.

The police followed up the arrest with raids on Vanuatu Finance Centre offices in Port Vila linked to Mr Agius' accounting firm PKF.