Australian coal exporters have been accused of falsifying data to suggest their coal is cleaner than it is in order to increase profits.
In a speech to parliament on Monday, independent MP Andrew Wilkie said thousands of pages of documents had been leaked by a whistleblower on industrial wrongdoing.
He said the documents revealed a fraud that involved test takers, major accounting firms and an investment bank.
“This fraud is environmental vandalism and makes talk of net zero emissions by 2050 a fantasy,” he said.
“It can also be criminal, damaging the company’s reputation as well as our national reputation.
“Coal companies operating in Australia use fraudulent quality reports for their exports and pay bribes to their overseas customer representatives to keep the entire scam secret.”
According to the federal MP, the fake data shows coal being drier than it is, which means it produces fewer emissions per kilowatt produced because it burns more cleanly.
If the coal is drier, companies can sell it at higher prices.
Mr. Wilkie said the alleged scam has been going on for years.
Among the countries that received the coal that allegedly falsified the attached data were Japan, South Korea, China and India.
He alleged that major corporations such as TerraCom, Anglo American, Glencore, Peabody, ALS, and Macquarie Bank were involved in the fraud.
In a statement to NCA NewsWire, an Anglo-American spokesperson insisted the allegations were “completely false.”
They said: “We take these matters very seriously and when the issues with the test were first reported by the media in early 2020, we conducted an investigation which found no evidence that any of our shipments had been affected.”
“We’ve reached out to Mr. Wilkie’s office to make sure he has the correct information.”
A Peabody spokesperson said the company “vehemently denies Mr. Wilkie’s allegations.”
Mr Wilkie on Monday called for a parliamentary inquiry into the case so that whistleblowers and other witnesses can “safely present their testimonies and evidence”.
“To date, no authority has been prepared to act on this alleged criminal behaviour, despite the fact that selected evidence has already been presented in Australian courts, substantiating what this whistleblower says is true,” he said.
“Let’s … go straight to an investigation so that industry can be held accountable for its sins and so that Australia can restore its reputation as an honest trading partner.”
Fellow cross-bincher Sophie Scamps said the industry needs to come clean.
“It shows the lengths to which the coal industry will go to mislead Australians, our trading partners and the world,” she said.
“This information would not have come to light without the courage of the coal industry whistleblower – this individual must be protected by law and thanked by all Australians for their courage in providing this information.”
Originally published as Investigation calls after coal exporters accused of ‘fraud on a large scale’