Underworld-connected construction identity George Alex has walked free on bail after he allegedly spearheaded a money laundering scheme.
Underworld-connected construction identity George Alex has walked free on bail after he allegedly spearheaded a money laundering scheme.

Construction boss George Alex walks free on bail

The alleged head of a $17 million tax fraud ring has walked free on bail, claiming the charges are a "total stitch-up".

Construction boss George Alex was arrested in Queensland last month and extradited to Sydney on conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth and money laundering charges.

Two weeks ago the 49-year-old was granted bail at Central Local Court, but before he could be released, family members needed to stump up two significant property assets as a $2 million surety.

George Alex walking out of the Silverwater Correctional Complex tonight. Picture: Christian Gilles
George Alex walking out of the Silverwater Correctional Complex tonight. Picture: Christian Gilles

Dressed in black with a bandana covering his face, Alex told The Daily Telegraph the case against him was a "total stitch-up" as he left Silverwater jail just before 7pm today.

"I'm totally innocent of the charges, it's a total stitch-up," he said.

"I'll make further comments later on."

Alex was escorted by his sister into a waiting black Range Rover driven by another woman before disappearing into the night.

Earlier, Magistrate Margaret Quinn imposed a raft of strict bail conditions on Alex, including effective house arrest, which she said would mitigate any flight risk he posed.

The prosecution had argued Alex was well connected to underworld criminal circles including bikie gangs, and had "significant financial means" to flee the country.

 

George Alex drove off in a black Range Rover. Picture: Christian Gilles
George Alex drove off in a black Range Rover. Picture: Christian Gilles

The magistrate also noted that Alex had been associated with slain terrorist Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar, who he took on a Lithgow shooting trip weeks before they left Australia to fight for Islamic State in the Middle East in 2013.

Prosecutor Raelene Sharp said Alex may also interfere with witnesses if released, noting that in 2015 he was convicted of sending death threats to his former lover Anna Lee.

But Alex's lawyer stressed that he'd obeyed those court orders, and also fronted court when summoned to appear before the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption that same year.

"He was never charged with anything as a result of that royal commission," Ms Quinn said.

Alex's wife Nectaria and his sister Athina had waited outside court as barrister Craig Smith SC argued the labour hire figure had "exceptionally strong" community ties that would stop him from leaving Australia - something he had not done since about 1987.

Ms Quinn ordered Alex to report twice daily to Marrickville police station and otherwise not leave his aunt's Earlwood home, while also banning him from leaving NSW.

 

George Alex at the Downing Centre courts in 2015. Picture: John Grainger
George Alex at the Downing Centre courts in 2015. Picture: John Grainger

Police allege Alex led a complex operation that enlisted financial industry experts and former bankers to divert more than $17 million from the Australian Taxation Office into private bank accounts.

He was arrested alongside his son as federal police swooped on 21 locations across NSW, Queensland and the ACT.

Officers charged 13 people and restrained $21 million worth of assets including 17 luxury cars, a boat, 64 bank accounts and 14 properties.

Police seized Alex's waterfront apartment on the Gold Coast and a lavish Sydney mansion in Earlwood worth $2.5 million owned by a company linked to the construction boss.

Police allege the syndicate used legitimate labour hire firms to outsource payroll administration to dodgy companies that paid wages and superannuation correctly, but sent money that should have gone to the ATO off to be laundered instead.

When the tax debt for one of these payroll companies grew too large, the company would be abandoned and a new one formed, police allege.

 

Alex has been charged over a scheme to divert more than $17 million from the Australian Taxation Office. Picture: Christian Gilles
Alex has been charged over a scheme to divert more than $17 million from the Australian Taxation Office. Picture: Christian Gilles

Originally published as Construction boss George Alex walks free on bail