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Australia Cops seize 800,000 bottles of alcohol including Jim Beam rum and Gordon's gin from alleged criminal syndicate accused of defrauding the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars

10:01  12 december  2019
10:01  12 december  2019 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Police have seized 800,000 bottles of alcohol from a syndicate that was allegedly defrauding the tax system, potentially costing the government hundreds of millions of dollars.

Australian Border Force (ABF) and Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers raided 15 properties across Sydney and Melbourne on Wednesday.

Two men were arrested and police seized $1million in cash, designer watches, four luxury cars, and gold coins along with the booze.

The investigation was ongoing and more charges were expected to be laid.

a man standing in a room: Two men were arrested (one pictured) during 15 raids across properties across Sydney and Melbourne as part of an investigation into an alleged criminal syndicate© Provided by Daily Mail Two men were arrested (one pictured) during 15 raids across properties across Sydney and Melbourne as part of an investigation into an alleged criminal syndicate

ABF Commissioner Michael Outram said the group used a complex scheme to avoid paying duty on alcohol being brought into the country and then fraudulently claim duty refunds on alcohol they exported.

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One unit equals 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol , which is around the amount of alcohol the average adult can process in an hour. For example, a pint of strong lager contains 3 units of alcohol , whereas the same volume of low-strength lager has just over 2 units. * Gin , rum , vodka, whisky, tequila, sambuca.

'[It's] incredibly rare to see a fraud on this scale,' he said in a press conference Thursday, the ABC reports.

Commissioner Outram said the group had milked around $28 million through the scheme but the final cost to taxpayers could surge well into nine figures as the investigation continued.

He said the major criminal operation had allegedly defrauded the Australian government of a substantial amount of revenue that could have otherwise been invested in the community.

a person standing next to a suitcase: The alleged criminal group rorted taxpayers through a complex plot to avoid paying duty on alcohol and claim fraudulent refunds on exports© Provided by Daily Mail The alleged criminal group rorted taxpayers through a complex plot to avoid paying duty on alcohol and claim fraudulent refunds on exports

'The individuals allegedly involved in this scam have not only been defrauding the Commonwealth of significant revenue, but also undercutting legitimate businesses involved in the alcohol trade, and ripping off consumers in the process. '

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A 38-year-old Dover Heights man and a 33-year-old Parramatta man faced Sydney Central court on Thursday and were granted bail.

The penalty for their charges ranged from ten to 25 years.

They were scheduled to appear in court again on February 4, 2020.

Operation Cabestro commenced in July 2019 after anomalies in duty paid or claimed through the duty drawback scheme were flagged by officials.

Along with the alcohol, authorities seized $1million in cash, luxury cars, designer watches and jewellery© Provided by Daily Mail Along with the alcohol, authorities seized $1million in cash, luxury cars, designer watches and jewellery

The licence of a depot believed to have been involved in the alleged fraud had been cancelled by authorities.

Depots work under strict regulations to securely store imported goods that duty had not been paid on.

'To people in our supply chain who are infiltrating it, who are abusing positions of trust with licences, if you're doing the wrong thing criminally, we're coming after you,' the ABC reported him to say.

a person standing on a sidewalk: An officer takes seized evidence out of one of the properties following the Thursday raids© Provided by Daily Mail An officer takes seized evidence out of one of the properties following the Thursday raids In some instances, the batch numbers had been removed from bottles to stop customs officials tracing their origin.

The Duty Drawback Scheme enables exporters to obtain a refund of customs duty paid on imported goods if those goods were to be subsequently exported.

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