High-grade Merino scam on Chi­nese

Countryman - - WOOL - Kait­lyn Of­fer

Chi­nese wool mer­chants who thought they were buy­ing tens of thou­sands of dol­lars worth of fine Merino wool have been sent low-grade scraps in a scam out of Mel­bourne’s docks.

Vic­to­ria Po­lice be­lieve the switch oc­curred be­tween May and June, but were only alerted three weeks ago when lo­cal stake­hold­ers got complaints from a Chi­nese mill.

“What was pur­chased was fine Merino wool and that’s prob­a­bly worth be­tween $10 to $12 a kilo and what turned up in China at the wool mills was prob­a­bly worth 20c to 50c a kilo,” De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Jamie Tem­ple­ton said.

The bales were trans­ported from a cen­tre at Laver­ton to the docks, which is where po­lice be­lieve the swap may have hap­pened.

The prod­uct was re­placed with cross-bred wool, sweep­ing and black wool, Insp. Tem­ple­ton said.

“What I sus­pect is the wool that was stolen — be­ing a high-grade wool — was sub­se­quently sold to an­other wool bro­ker and it would be po­ten­tially pur­ported to be from an­other wool grower,” he said.

Six­teen dodgy bales ar­rived at the Chi­nese mills, but more might ar­rive, po­lice said.

It was im­por­tant to catch the per­pe­tra­tors to stem any dam­age to the Aus­tralian wool in­dus­try's rep­u­ta­tion, Insp. Tem­ple­ton added.

Na­tional Coun­cil of Wool Sell­ing Bro­kers ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Chris Wil­cox said China took 75 per cent of Aus­tralia’s wool, mak­ing it a lifeblood for grow­ers.

Pic­ture: Bob Gar­nant

Na­tional Coun­cil of Wool Sell­ing Bro­kers ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Chris Wil­cox.

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