An investigation into corruption at Fremantle Ports has uncovered more than $5 million of tax payers’ money allegedly transferred overseas by a Perth family through a fake invoicing scheme – five times the amount initially thought.
Former manager at the port authority, Giacomo Merolla, his wife Daniela and two children Paola, 23, and Tiziana, 28, were charged with money laundering in June following a probe by WA Police’s financial crimes squad.
The parents allegedly fled overseas to South Africa in March after realising auditors hired by the port authority had uncovered the scam. Their children remain in Perth and intend to fight the charges.
The original rort was estimated to be around $1 million, but ongoing investigations have allegedly uncovered about $5.2 million siphoned out of the authority into overseas bank accounts linked to shelf companies allegedly created by Giacomo Merolla.