11 Nov 2008

Australia court rejects bid to freeze accounts linked to Vanuatu probe

6:26 am on 11 November 2008

An attempt by the Crime Commission in the Australian state of new South Wales to freeze 50 bank accounts connected to Vanuatu-based businessman Robert Agius has been rejected by the state's Court of Appeal.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the court ruled the commission couldn't freeze the accounts on the grounds that Australian Federal Police who arrested Mr Agius in Perth last April did not provide enough information about his alleged criminal activities.

Mr Agius, who faces charges of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering, is alleged to have been involved in a 67 million US dollar money laundering scheme through accounts operated by his accounting firm, PKF Vanuatu.

His arrest was part of a joint investigation by the AFP and the Australian Tax Office into tax fraud.

The Taxation Office is conducting 80 audits linked to Vanuatu, relating to nearly 60 million US dollars in allegedly false deductions.