The Jeweller, the gold and Toowoomba's bookies by Chris Calcino
This article appeared recently in the Toowoomba Chronicle by Chris Calcino.
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LUCK has dried up for the man they called "the Jeweller", a Toowoomba racing punter linked to a $65 million gold bullion tax scam.
Robert Bourke was a trader in precious metals and a well-known gambler known to drop more than $100,000 in a single sitting at Clifford Park Racecourse.
The Toowoomba Turf Club loved having him there; his big spending substantially increasing turnover.
He disappeared from the Toowoomba racing scene a few months ago and is now all-but bankrupt, following an Australian Tax Office investigation into one of the country's biggest tax fraud cases on record.
Court documents in two civil actions against Bourke and other parties have shed light on the case.
In a sworn affidavit to the Supreme Court, Bourke said he was owed more than $11million by gold trading company M.A.K. Precious Metals, run by Melbourne-based businessman Michael Kukulka.
A civil claim to that effect has been dismissed on a technicality, but Bourke is making further attempts to recover the alleged debt.
Bourke claimed to be a "middle man" in a network of gold traders involving regular trades up to hundreds of kilograms of gold each week.
He said he had not been paid for millions of dollars worth of gold, despite its delivery.
According to his affadavit, he provided pure gold bullion which unbeknownst to him was later written off as scrap gold by recipients further up the line.
The action would allow GST to be claimed on the metal - with pure gold bullion, GST is not applicable.
The wheels fell off when the authorities launched 14 separate raids in New South Wales over evidence of a $65million tax con.
Bourke said he had received death threats against himself and his family, including his three children.
He claimed to have taped two anonymous phone calls using a hand-held recording device, transcripts of which were provided to the court.
"I have been asked to pass on a message as a reminder to come up with a paper trail if you want to see any of your money - do you understand what I'm talking about?" one transcript read.
"Don't worry about any of the gold, it is gone, it is long gone, no one has it and I want you to consider your three children and understand precisely what I am talking about."
Bourke is suffering terminal cancer and is believed to be seeking experimental treatment.
He has been closely involved with Toowoomba horse trainer Ben Currie, who was overseas and unable to be contacted.
Sources confirmed Bourke still had substantial debts to book keepers in Toowoomba though some efforts had been made to pay them off.
Toowoomba Turf Club chairman Bob Frappell said Bourke was a much-loved patron of Clifford Park and was sorely missed.
"He's a nice, personable bloke and we're sorry he's not there at the moment," Mr Frappell said.
"He came to the club and punted and we were happy to increase our turnover. Where the money came from I don't know. But he doesn't owe any money to the Turf Club."
Authorities are still working to recover the missing $65million.
- Michael Haines