UPDATE – July 2017: The truth surrounding the allegations made against the highly successful Tasmanian company braaap Motorcycles and its high profile CEO Brad Smith still remains untold.
Charges laid against Mr Smith and General Manager Toby Wilkin last July are still to be heard in court as countless adjournments have delayed the case.
We spoke to Brad Smith recently and he is eager for the public to hear his side of the story, but legal restrictions prevent him from commenting until the matter has been resolved through the court.
Our original coverage from August 2016 is below. It is based on information publicly available at the time.
As always, we are keen to report the full story in a factual and unbiassed manner and we have invited Brad to talk to us. Brad has accepted our invitation and has agreed to an interview as soon as he is able.
- Braaap Chief Executive and General Manager charged with fraud
- Detectives allege the pair are part of a well organised “rebirthing” syndicate
- Federal Infrastructure Department suspends Identification Plate approvals
Braaap founder and Chief Executive, Brad Smith, was charged on Thursday (28th July, 2016) with four counts of fraud.
General Manager Toby Wilkin was also charged last Wednesday with four counts of fraud and one count of knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.
The charges have been laid after an 8 month investigation by the New South Wales Police force.
Launceston’s “Examiner” newspaper reports that NSW detectives allege Mr Smith and Mr Wilkin had a joint criminal enterprise that saw up to 85 ST-250 model motorcycles “rebirthed” and resold – 35 of which were allegedly sold in NSW.
Detectives allege the pair were part of a “syndicate” to scratch off and replace the serial numbers belonging to the “cafe racer” motorcycles, owned by a NSW company.
The first cracks in the company started to appear last month when a recall was issued through the ACCC for four Braaap models.
The recalls seemed to be for insignificant labelling issues, and at the time Brad Smith said “I think most people will come to the conclusion that it’s trivial.”
But the wording of the recall notice suggested something more – that the consumer is “unable to verify the authenticity and manufacturing standards” of various parts on the motorbikes.
The company was then hit with a Federal Government sanction about two weeks later, and five of its Identification Plate Approvals were “temporarily suspended” by the Federal Infrastructure Department for “non-compliance”.
That sanction prevents Braaap from plating any vehicles from 24th June, 2016, effectively preventing the company from importing and selling future shipments of stock.
The suspension was lifted for the Braaap ST-250 model on the 15th July, but all others remain in place and affect the Moto 3, Urban, Street Superlite 50 and Street Superlite 125 models.
Police carried out simultaneous raids on Braaap’s Launceston, Hobart and Melbourne premises on Wednesday and seized a punch stamp set, compliance labels, computers, and documentation.
Mr Smith is denying the charges laid against himself and Mr Wilkin, and the pair will face court in Sydney on the 18th August.
The full extent of the alleged illegal activities is yet to be made public, but it is certainly a spectacular fall from grace for Brad Smith and Braaap.
Smith was named Australian Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2008, Young Australian of the Year for Tasmania in 2010 and Braaap has won the Australian Retailers Association’s Small Business of the Year award four times.
This story was originally published on Aug 1, 2016 as “Braaap In Turmoil As Police Charge Owners With Fraud”.