George Alex -  Downing
George Alex - Downing

$17.5M alleged tax fraud crime syndicate bust

A SYDNEY construction figure is accused of heading a criminal syndicate and using some of the $17.5 million profits from a tax fraud scheme for a lavish Gold Coast lifestyle, it is alleged.

George Alex - arrested with son Arthur in Surfers Paradise on Tuesday morning - has been accused of heading an elaborate crime syndicate which allegedly funnelled defrauded monies for about two years.

It is alleged they diverted $17.5 million in Pay As You Go withholding and GST which was payable to the tax office.

"The AFP alleges that the defendant used a complex network of corporate entities that he controlled using directors and shareholders in name only," documents filed in the Southport Magistrates Court said.

The documents allege the group would meet at a $1.9 million luxury Surfers Paradise apartment to discuss how to defraud the money.

Alex spent two years on the Gold Coast living a "lavish lifestyle" while not having a job, according to court documents.

It is also alleged the syndicate sent almost $4 million to offshore accounts in Singapore.

Money was also sent to Alex's family in Greece, it is alleged.

According to court documents, intercepts found one of the alleged tax fraud scheme co-accused allegedly told Michael Ibrahim: "George, me and you need to make the decisions, whatever you say I will agree to, which we do".

Ibrahim allegedly replied: "That's how it should be. George is running everything. It's George's (money)".

Irbrahim is serving a 30-year prison sentence for a giant illegal importation of drugs and tobacco and money laundering.

The documents allege Pasquale Barbaro was murdered when shot execution style in November 2016 as he left Alex's home.

It is alleged in the documents Alex moved to Queensland to avoid giving evidence as a witness in the murder trial. There is no suggestion anybody named in the article had any involvement in Barbaro's death.

According to court documents, the intercepts also caught other men in the alleged syndicate talking about getting Alex's approval for cash saying "he decides who the extras, if any, are gonna get paid" and also asking for "a big number (from Singapore)".

The documents allege one of the co-accused told their wife that Alex was "not going to let him walk away easily" from the syndicate.

Mr Ibrahim allegedly tried to contact Alex more than 1,000 times in 18 months.

Alex and six other men were arrested on the Gold Coast on Tuesday. Ibrahim's wife Caitlin Hall was arrested the same day in Sydney in connection with the case.

It is alleged Alex had directed $1 million be directed to Hall.

Michael Ibrahim's wife Caitlin Hall was arrested in Sydney yesterday for her alleged connection to the crime syndicate.
Michael Ibrahim's wife Caitlin Hall was arrested in Sydney yesterday for her alleged connection to the crime syndicate.

The 49-year-old Alex and his son Arthur, 22, are both charged with conspiracy to defraud and dealing with proceeds of crime worth more than $1 million between July 2018 and July, 2020.

Pasquale Loccisano, 50, Gordon McAndrew, 58, Mark Bryers, 62, and Kevin McHugh, 69 were also arrested on the Gold Coast on the same charges on Tuesday.

Adrian Metly, 42, was charged with one count of dealing with money or property the proceeds of crime worth more than $1 million between July 2018 and July this year.

Jonathan Nyst, of Nyst Legal, represented George Alex, Arthur Alex, Metly, Bryers and McAndrew in Southport Magistrates Court.

Mr Nyst said: "I haven't had the chance to speak to them but none appear to be in a show cause position, including George Alex who is alleged to be at the head of this criminal syndicate," he said.

According to court documents, Alex and the alleged syndicate were the target of a long-ranging joint investigation by the Australian Federal Police, the ATO and ASIC.

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"The charges against the defendant involve the use of corporate entities that he controlled using directors and shareholders in name only to divert taxes from the ATO, and distribute these to himself, his associates and co-conspirators," the court documents said.

The court documents allege he used McAndrew to purchase the Surfers Paradise apartment he lives in with his son.

Magistrate Gary Finger adjourned the matter until 11am on Wednesday.

McHugh's matters was adjourned until Wednesday so he could receive legal advice.

It is expected police will apply to have the men extradited to NSW.

Loccisano was extradited to New South Wales to appear in a Sydney court on Thursday.

Originally published as $17.5M alleged tax fraud crime syndicate bust on Gold Coast


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