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The history of the Pallion Group and ABC Refinery is detailed on the company's website and chronicled on Wikipedia; however, it's missing some vital details.
The history of the Pallion Group and ABC Refinery is detailed on the company's website and chronicled on Wikipedia; however, it's missing some vital details.

Pallion Group: Timeline of missing detail, controversy, and legal dispute

The history of the Pallion Group and ABC Refinery is detailed on the company's websites and chronicled on Wikipedia. However, this 70+ year chronology is missing some vital details.

According to the Pallion Group website, the company is "the largest fully integrated precious metal services group in Australasia and the result of the merger of the ABC Bullion and Palloys Group of companies.”

The network of companies consists of six entities: ABC Bullion, ABC Refinery, Palloys, Goldenage International, WJ Sanders, and Custodian Vaults.

That said, the Pallion website makes no mention of an important company formerly known as EBS & Associates.

Likewise - and more interestingly - a Wikipedia page devoted to the history of Pallion Group dating back to 1951 also makes no reference to EBS & Associates. This 2,000-word detailed chronology ignores the Pallion company, which has been embroiled in a decade-long legal dispute concerning GST fraud and gold bullion.

In addition, Wikipedia does not mention the Federal Court case dating back to 2014 or the fact that EBS & Associates was liquidated by its directors following an assessment by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) chasing payments of around $200 million.

Pallion's Wikipedia page also does not mention that the assets were sold in 2015 to a new Pallion company and which Federal Court documents have described as, or allege is, a "phoenix operation". 

By way of background, EBS & Associates became embroiled in a ‘GST scam’ around 2013 which involved gold traders exploiting a loophole in the way GST was applied to scrap gold rather than gold bullion.

The ATO alleged that individuals and businesses were refining GST-free gold bullion into scrap gold, making it eligible for GST (goods and services tax) when sold to precious metal dealers and jewellers.

The 10 per cent GST was paid by the new buyer and pocketed by the seller, who did not make a declaration to the ATO.

It should be noted that Federal Court documents acknowledge that Pallion subsidiaries were not party to the complex fraud, including EBS & Associates, which was liquidated and renamed ‘ACN 154 520 199’ following the ATO’s assessments.

With that said, the documents detail that it “was a willing and informed beneficiary of the scheme, because it received the benefit of input tax credits in connection with its acquisitions of this suspiciously rich and surging taxable supply of scrap gold.” [Emphasis added] 

Not only do Federal Court documents claim that the directors were aware of the scheme, the liquidator reported that they may have also engaged in misconduct.

ASIC records show six directors of Pallion Group Pty Ltd: Andrew and Phillip Cochineas, Philip Williams, Jane (Janie) Simpson, Francis Gregg (Simpson's father), and Andrew Robinson.

“Mr [Andrew] Cochineas and [director] Ms Simpson – but especially Mr Cochineas – were on notice (and in some cases had actual knowledge) of the fraudulent activities," the 9 August 2023 court document states. 

It adds that Cochineas was "disingenuous in denying the existence of any suspicions about the fraudulent activities".

Trust and transparency

Below is a timeline detailing important events over the past 10 years that are missing from the Pallion website - and the chronological history detailed on Wikipedia. These events led to the appointment of KordaMentha as Special Purpose Liquidators acting for the ATO, which is still chasing more than $200 million in outstanding GST payments.

Worth noting is that in March 2016, Pallion Group joined the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). At the time, the ATO was undertaking tax investigations into its companies.

Just a month after Pallion Group's membership to the RJC, in April 2016 the ATO's audit into EBS & Associates concluded.

This audit had significant financial implications, with an assessment for more than $122 million and notices of penalties totalling over $58 million.

The RJC website states: "We play a crucial role in promoting responsible practices and ethical standards within the jewellery and watch industry. Through our standards, certification and collaborative initiatives, the RJC aims to build trust, transparency, and sustainability across the entire jewellery and watch supply chain, ultimately benefiting consumers, communities, and the environment." [Emphasis added]

The RJC's Code of Practices states: "Our vision is a responsible worldwide supply chain that promotes trust in the global fine jewellery and watch industry”.

Two of the Code's key requirements include:

  • Improving legal and regulatory compliance, strengthen public reporting and secure a commitment to responsible business practices
  • Promote anti-corruption efforts and manage sourcing risks

Despite the ATO's action in 2016 and various Federal Court cases since, in 3 November 2022 the RJC renewed the membership as “Palloys Pty Ltd (formerly Pallion Group Pty Ltd)” for a further three years. 

 

PALLION GROUP: TIMELINE OF EVENTS 

201129
NOV

Palabc Holdings Pty Ltd (later EBS & Associates Pty Ltd) is incorporated with the directors being Andrew Cochineas, Philip Cochineas, Jane Simpson and Francis Gregg (Simpson's father).

201202
FEB

Palabc Holdings Pty Ltd is renamed EBS & Associates Pty Ltd for, broadly described, the acquisition and refining of gold, silver and other valuable materials into fine metal.

2014JUL

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) commences an audit into EBS & Associates' GST affairs.

201507
AUG

A new company - ABC Refinery (Australia) Pty Ltd - is incorporated. The directors at the date of its incorporation were the same people who were the directors of EBS & Associates, together with Mr Paul Cochineas.

The shares in the Company were all owned by Pallion Group Pty Ltd a company incorporated on 3 November 2014 whose directors were the same persons as the directors of EBS & Associates, together with Mr Philip Williams.

 01
SEP

At the time EBS & Associates was under audit as to its GST affair it transfers its business and assets to ABC Refinery.

This will become known as "September 2015 transaction".

 NOV

The ATO commences an audit into ABC Refinery's GST affairs.

2016APR

The audit into EBS & Associates' GST affairs concludes. The ATO issues notices of amended assessment to EBS for more than $122 million and notices of penalties totalling more than $58 million.

EBS & Associates objects to the notices. The challenge reached the Full Court of the Federal Court before it was remitted to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

 22
SEP

Shortly after the ATO disallowed EBS & Associates' objections, it entered into a creditors’ voluntary liquidation.

201706
APR

Special purpose liquidators (Rahul Goyal and Jennifer Nettleton of KordaMentha) are appointed to investigate EBS & Associates' September 2015 transaction. However, more legal action ensued.

 JUL

The ATO issued notices of assessment to the Company and on 27 July 2017, the Company lodged objections against some of the notices of assessment.

 16
AUG

A new company titled ABCRA Pty Ltd was incorporated. Its directors were and remain Andrew Cochineas, Philip Cochineas, Francis Gregg and Jane Simpson. Its sole shareholder is Pallion.

 01
SEP

EBS & Associates changed its name from ABC Refinery (Australia) Pty Ltd to ACN 607 537 548 Pty Ltd. ABCRA Pty Ltd changed its name to ABC Refinery (Australia) Pty Ltd (ABCRA2).

Then EBS & Associates and ABCRA2 entered into agreements and transferred all of its business, goodwill and assets to ACBRA2. All of the directors of the Company ceased to hold that office, with the exception of Andrew Cochineas.

This will become known as "September 2017 transaction".

 27
OCT

EBS & Associates lodges further objections against notices of assessment.

 13
NOV

Pallion Group transferred its shares in EBS & Associates to a company titled ACN 133 769 187 Pty Ltd which is a company Andrew Cochineas has been at all material times the sole shareholder and director.

 15
NOV

A new liquidator is appointed for EBS & Associates. The appointment was made at the instigation of the Company’s sole shareholder Andrew Cochineas.

 28
NOV

The liquidator provides his first report to creditors. He discloses that he was referred by Andrew Robinson of Robinson Legal in his capacity as solicitor for the Company and he had pre-appointment dealings with Andrew Robinson, Andrew Cochineas and/or Philip Cochineas on seven occasions in November.

Andrew Cochineas advises the liquidator that he would provide an upfront payment of $20,000 as a contribution toward the cost of litigation and that further monies and/or indemnities were likely to be provided for further litigation in relation to the challenges to the objection decisions; and the liquidator did not consider that the referral to him by Andrew Robinson placed him in a position of conflict of interest or duty.

 DEC

The ATO foreshadows applying for special purpose liquidators to investigate the September 2017 transaction.

201812
FEB

The liquidator for EBS & Associates lodges further objections against notices of assessment.

 14
FEB

The liquidator issued his second report to creditors and indicates potential misconduct by the Company's officers and proposes an investigation. He advises the September 2017 transaction may be a voidable transaction; and also stated that “related entities” had proposed that he enter into a funding agreement with Pallion to cover the cost of investigating the notices of assessment.

 16
APR

The liquidator issued his third report to creditors and states that he had received a proposal from Pallion Group and Andrew Cochineas to fund an investigation into the legitimacy of the ATO's notices of assessment and, if appropriate, to challenge those notices.

 24
APR

The liquidator for EBS & Associates argues for investigating both the September 2017 transaction and the notices of assessment acknowledging the tension between the positions of the ATO and Pallion Group.

 01
MAY

The ATO expresses concerns about a potential conflict of interest if the liquidator is funded by Pallion Group given that Pallion Group was involved in the September 2017 transaction, which may be voidable

 16
MAY

The liquidator's proposal for funding by Pallion Group is approved with his casting vote.

Further correspondence occurs between the ATO and the liquidator regarding funding and conflict of interest.

202205
APR

The ATO determines the objections lodged by EBS & Associates, mostly disallowing them.

 02
JUN

EBS & Associates appeals the ATO's decisions.

202324
APR

The liquidator for EBS & Associates requests an indemnity from the ATO to fund investigations.

 07
JUN

The ATO rejects the indemnity request.

 21-28 JUL

Correspondence between the ATO and the liquidator regarding the ATO's application to the Federal Court of Australia for special purpose liquidators.

 31
JUL

The Court appoints special purpose liquidators to investigate the September 2017 transaction due to concerns about a potential conflict of interest with the existing liquidator. The ATO agrees to fund the investigation.


Jeweller's timelines are compiled through comprehensive research drawn from respected sources.
They serve as a record of significant events within the watch and jewellery industry. 

 

Detailed reading
» Part I - New money laundering laws: What do jewellers need to know?
» Part II - New money laundering laws: Millions at stake in the jewellery industry
» Part III - New money laundering laws: Loopholes, lawyers, liquidation and Pallion
» Part IVNew money laundering laws: Pallion Group, the ATO, and the voidable transaction
» Part V - Pallion Group: Timeline of missing detail, controversy and legal dispute

Federal Court Documents
» Commissioner of Taxation v EBS Refinery - November 2020
» Deputy Commissioner of Taxation v ABC Refinery - 31 July 2023
» Federal Court Order - Justice Goodman - 31 July 2023

 











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