Opposition Leader Shane Love has called for a Royal Commission into Gold Corporation and Perth Mint, following disturbing allegations revealed about the State-owned entity.
Mr Love said the damning level of mismanagement reported on ABC’s Four Corners raised many red flags, including trading gold with high-risk customers, money-laundering, and allegations of ‘gold doping’.
“As a State Government-owned organisation, it is unfathomable to see these allegations about Gold Corporation, particularly given the Premier was directly responsible much of the time,” Mr Love said.
“For the past 18 months, I have raised questions around the governance, ‘know-your-customer’ obligations, and compliance of Gold Corporation, but the Premier and Minister Bill Johnston dodged responsibility, showing a lack of understanding of the magnitude of these failures.
“The McGowan Labor Government needs to come clean with what they knew and what action they did or didn’t take, particularly given a member of State Treasury was on Perth Mint’s board.
“If the Premier and his Minister won’t come clean now, then a Royal Commission is vital to ensure the facts are laid on the table and West Australian taxpayers are aware.
“We need to investigate the governance and management of the Perth Mint and the appropriateness of the West Australian taxpayer continuing to underwrite its operation through a Treasury guarantee, matters not being considered by AUSTRAC in its current inquiry.”
Mr Love said it was troubling to hear allegations of Perth Mint failing to report around 5,000 breaches of anti-money laundering laws, which could cost WA taxpayers millions, if not billions, of dollars in penalties.
“For the McGowan Labor Government, having the State-owned Perth Mint operating as a potential honey pot for organised crime is gravely concerning,” Mr Love said.
“It is not good enough for the McGowan Government to claim to be tough on outlaw motorcycle gangs and drug traffickers, while providing a financial pathway via Perth Mint for their ill-gotten gains.
“The external audit being conducted by AUSTRAC will provide great insight into Perth Mint, but Minister Johnston has the ability to be open and honest with West Australians now.
“The Minister committed to a root and branch review into Perth Mint, with the report due to be released last year, but we have since heard crickets.”
Mr Love said the allegation of ‘gold-doping’, where gold bars are tainted with other metals to the potential value of $8.7 billion, was confronting.
“If proven, this would cause significant reputational damage to the State and the Perth Mint and would potentially put WA taxpayers up for an even bigger bill to replace the tainted gold,” Mr Love said.
“As disturbing as the Four Corners exposé was, this needs to be a catalyst for real change and accountability by the Premier and Minister.
“Only a Royal Commission into this embattled entity will regain the confidence of both the clients of Gold Corporation and West Australians who are potentially on the hook for billions in penalties.”