23 May 2008

Vanuatu businessman Agiu remains in prison, yet to lodge massive bail figure

1:41 pm on 23 May 2008

A Vanuatu-based businessman who Australian Federal Police allege masterminded a 90 million US dollar offshore tax scheme remains in prison after failing to lodge bail.

Robert Agius, who has entered his third week in a Sydney prison, is yet to provide one of the highest sureties ever set by an Australian court - 4 million US dollars.

The newspaper, The Australian, quotes Australian Lawyer's Alliance national director, Tom Percy QC, as saying the bail figure is unprecedented.

Mr Agius was arrested in Perth late last month as part of the AFP's Project Wickenby investigation.

He faces charges of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering relating to an alleged tax scheme involving 400 clients.

He's due to appear in court on July 1.

Meanwhile, the AFP has widened its crackdown on alleged tax evasion involving Vanuatu schemes.

Two more Australian men were summonsed by the Queensland court last week, facing allegations they promoted a scheme resulting in the assets of 69 companies being stripped and transferred through a network of firms in Australia and Vanuatu.