Business

From AFP Seizures to a World $800M Empire

Within the early hours of June 19, 2013, a panic-wracked Australian businessman boarded a global flight and held his breath. Hours earlier, Amit Gupta’s Gold Coast residence had been raided by the federal police.

Investigators had spent weeks tapping Gupta’s cellphone, probing sensational allegations he had backed a political coup on the small Pacific Island of Nauru by bribing a number of politicians who had plotted to topple the federal government.

The brand new authorities, Gupta hoped, would give him full management over the island nation’s profitable mining rights, however an arrest now may imply years in jail.

If these moments of apprehension, with the Australian police snapping at his heels, had been Gupta’s low level, they had been fleeting. As his aircraft soared into the morning sky, his future stretched out brightly forward.

Within the decade since, this alleged company crime kingpin and fugitive from justice has constructed a worldwide enterprise value an estimated $800 million.

This masthead has tracked Gupta to Dubai the place, late final yr, he bought extra excellent news: Australian efforts to extradite him had collapsed, rebuffed by the Dubai authorities over a authorized technicality.

The Nauru bribery scandal first erupted in 2010, when a report in The Australian alleged that Australian police and intelligence companies had been scrutinizing a plot by the then Gold Coast-based Gupta and his kinfolk to make use of bribery to successfully rework

Nauru right into a puppet state, with its solely business – phosphate mining – fully managed by Gupta’s enterprise pursuits.

It took the AFP two years, in October 2012, to faucet Gupta’s cellphone. Eight months later, they raided his Gold Coast residence. In 2015, this masthead and the ABC reported on allegations that expenses may be imminent. By then Gupta was two years on the lam.

Gupta’s emails expose a systemic alleged bribery operation concentrating on Nauru’s strongest politicians with the purpose of profitable choice for his and his household’s enterprise, and notably unique rights to phosphate and lengthy, ongoing contracts. In doing so, his dealings threatened the political stability of the island nation of 13,000 folks and stood to poison its democracy.

Information of Gupta firm transactions obtained by this masthead recommend Gupta’s questionable company conduct from his Gold Coast base prolonged nicely past Nauru and the phosphate business. Banking information recommend Gupta’s firms additionally paid suspected bribes to senior Algerian officers for mining concessions in Africa, used a poverty-stricken Indian man as a “straw man” director of considered one of his firms, and issued faux invoices for phosphate purchased from nations akin to Togo.

Leaked company and banking paperwork reveal how Gupta’s firms generated a system of fictitious invoices and bills to maneuver cash out of Australia, and the way he averted thousands and thousands in Australian taxes.

Paperwork present the federal police’s Getax investigation spent years monitoring this world motion of funds. In 2020, the AFP moved to grab a number of properties and financial institution accounts related to Gupta in Australia, Singapore, and New York value an estimated $200 million.

Nauru continues to be promoting phosphate. Amongst its more moderen prospects is an organization referred to as Agrifields DMCC. It’s the title of the worldwide fertilizer agency Gupta launched after fleeing Australia.

Disclaimer: This text is an unedited extract from The Sydney Morning Herald article by award-winning Australian journalist Nick McKenzie (who gained the Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the 12 months twice and Kennedy Award for journalist of the yr), launched on March 9, 2024 (https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/the-man-who-tried-to-buy-a-country-20240227-p5f83r.html).

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