21 May 2009

Vanuatu companies implicated in Australian tax case

2:35 pm on 21 May 2009

Two Vanuatu-based companies have been implicated in a move by Australia's Federal Court to freeze 27 million US dollars worth of assets belonging to Australian businessman Phillip Grimaldi.

The newspaper, The Australian, reports that the Australian Taxation Office sought freezing orders against the assets of Mr Grimaldi, and two Vanuatu-based business entities, including a company linked to Robert Agius.

Robert Agius is the alleged mastermind of a 67-million US dollar money laundering scheme scheme through accounts operated by his accounting firm, PKF Vanuatu.

He was arrested as part of the large Operation Wickenby investigation by Australian Federal Police and the Tax Office.

Mr Agius was present at yesterday's court hearing, charged with conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.

Lawyers for two Vanuatu-based companies, one of them a subsidiary of PKF, tried unsuccessfully to block a tax office order to produce financial records.

The hearing continues.