Rex Patrick attacks Geoff Raby in parliament over Yancoal taxes

Crossbench Senator Rex Patrick has launched a scathing attack in parliament on Wednesday on former ambassador to China, Geoff Raby, over company tax avoidance.

Dr Raby, who served from 2007 to 2011, is a director of Chinese mining company Yancoal.

The Australian economist has previously been awarded for his service to Australia-China relations and has advocated for deeper ties between the two nations.

But in a speech to the parliament on Wednesday, Senator Patrick accused Dr Raby of being involved with one of “Australia’s biggest corporate tax dodges”.

“Dr Raby has properly registered as a foreign agent, but in doing so he should have described himself as what he is, just a front man, a paid operative selling his influence and credibility to foreign corporate tax dodgers,” Senator Patrick told the Upper House.

“Yancoal Australia Ltd is indeed Australia’s largest pure-coal producer.”

Senator Patrick, who made the allegations under parliamentary privilege, said Dr Raby has worked with Yancoal for nearly nine years during which its “aggressive tax minimisation” is shown in Australian Taxation Office reports.

“Between 2013-14 and 2018-19, Yancoal generated some $16.6bn dollars in revenue,” Senator Patrick said.

“Remarkably they declared just $26.6m dollars in taxable income.

“Over those six years of activity, as the coal price skyrocketed, Yancoal paid no income tax at all. Not a cent.”

Senator Patrick said Yancoal’s largest shareholders were Shandong-based Yanzhou Coal, 62 per cent holding, and Hong Kong based investment company Cinda International, which has a 16 per cent holding.

He said Yancoal was majority owned by the Chinese state because Yanzhou Coal was owned by the Yankuang Group – the fourth largest coalmining state owned enterprise in China.

“Yancoal’s Board includes five Chinese directors including Chairman, Baocai Zhang, who represent the Yankuang Group, and one other Chinese director who represents Cinda International,” Senator Patrick said.

“It is also noteworthy that as the recent report by the Centre for Public Integrity shows, over the past twenty years Yancoal shelled out over $2 million in political donations – in spite of a published code of conduct that states ‘it is against the Company policy to use corporate funds for political purposes.

“No income tax paid, but plenty of dollars to buy political influence.”

Senator Patrick urged universities and think tanks considering inviting Dr Raby to give an address to “justify his involvement” with Yancoal.

His attack is one of several speeches in the past year highlighting corporate tax avoidance in Australia.

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