Calls for investigation after coal exporters were accused of ‘widespread fraud’

Australian coal exporters have been accused of falsifying data to claim their coal is cleaner than it is to boost profits.

Speaking to Parliament on Monday, Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said thousands of pages of documents had been leaked to him by an industry whistleblower.

The documents uncovered a scam involving two testing labs, major accounting firms and an investment bank.

“This scam is environmental vandalism and makes all the talk of net-zero emissions by 2050 a fiction,” he said.

“It could also be criminal and destroy corporate reputations as well as our national reputation.

“Coal companies operating in Australia use fraudulent quality reports on their exports and pay bribes to representatives of their foreign customers to keep the whole scam secret.”

According to the federal MP, the fake data shows that the coal is drier than it is, i.e. it causes fewer emissions per kilowatt produced because it burns cleaner.

If the coal is drier, companies can sell it at higher prices.

Mr Wilkie said the alleged fraud had been going on for years.

Countries that received the coal with allegedly falsified dates included Japan, South Korea, China and India.

He claimed that large corporations such as TerraCom, Anglo American, Glencore, Peabody, ALS and Macquarie Bank were involved in fraud.

Mr Wilkie on Monday called for a parliamentary inquiry to be set up into the issue so that the whistleblower and other witnesses could “present their statements and evidence safely”.

“Until now, no authority has been prepared to take action against this alleged criminal conduct, despite selected evidence proving the truth of this whistleblower’s statements has already been presented in Australian courts,” he said.

“Let’s … launch an investigation straight away so the industry can be held accountable for their sins and so Australia can restore its reputation as an honest trading partner.”

Crossbench colleague Sophie Scamps said the industry needs to get clean.

“It shows how far the coal industry will go to mislead Australians, our trading partners and the world,” she said.

“This information would not have come out without the courage of a coal industry whistleblower – a person who should be protected by law and thanked by all Australians for their courage in coming forward with this information.”

Originally released as calls for investigation after coal exporters were accused of “widespread fraud”.

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