Tasmanian motorcycle company Braaap Motorcycles is sinking deeper into trouble as more information and allegations surface regarding illegal dealings and fraudulent activities.
- 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 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.