Police make arrests in investment fraud at Gold Coast

Today, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Financial and Cyber Crime Group have charged a 37-year-old Gold Coast man for money laundering and financial crime offences following the closure of a complex investigation into an alleged investment scam.

An arrest warrant is currently being sought for a 62-year-old man, formerly of the Gold Coast in relation to the same investigation.

Detectives will allege the 37-year-old man and 62-year-old man claimed to be owners of a graphene battery technology and in May 2016, dishonestly advertised investment opportunities to an ASX-listed company based in Brisbane that subsequently entered into a failed joint venture with the offenders.

Operation Prefix commenced in January 2019 after police received a complaint about the credibility of the joint venture.

It will be alleged that following dishonest disclosures by the offenders, the former board of the investor company paid $566,450 and issued 30000000 shares to enter a joint venture with the offenders and finance production of graphene batteries. Police will allege the money was not invested as promised and was used for the offenders’ personal benefit.

“In September 2016, the former board of the investor company terminated the joint venture however their attempts to have their capital returned were ignored by the offenders, resulting in financial loss to shareholders, including those who bought shares following public announcements of the joint venture,” Detective Acting Superintendent Vince Byrnes of the State Crime Command’s Financial and Cyber Crime Group said.

“We will allege this was a scam investment with the offenders making several false claims to deceive investors.”

The offenders shipped ice-cream machines labelled as scientific laboratory equipment to a facility in Thailand where the batteries were to be produced though none were.

Both offenders made dishonest representations to the former board members of the investor company in relation to their qualifications, purporting to have scientific backgrounds and relationships with Russian based scientists and Australian based scientific institutions. The investigation confirmed that despite knowing that the graphene technology could not be produced, the offenders continued marketing it in order to secure investments.

“This highlights that it is important to stay in control of your investment transactions and seek a second opinion prior to committing to an investment,” Detective Acting Superintendent Vince Byrnes said.

The 37-year-old man has been arrested and charged with one money laundering offence and two fraud offences (dishonestly cause detriment and dishonestly induce delivery of $60050) and is expected to appear in Southport Magistrate on October 3, 2019.

An arrest warrant is in the process of being issued for the 62-year-old for the same charges.

The charges are the result of an eight-month protracted police investigation conducted by the FCCG, with support from the Crime and Corruption Commission and Australian Border Force.

If you have information for police, contact Policelink on 131 444 or provide information using the online form 24hrs per day.

You can report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers, a registered charity and community volunteer organisation, by calling 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersqld.com.au 24hrs per day.

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