18 May 2020
A bankrupt underworld figure accused of cleaning money for drug kingpin Tony Mokbel is understood to have raised $10 million in funding for an ASX-listed company making a bid to sanitise the hands of the world.
Skin Elements announced to the Australian Stock Exchange on April 16 that Carlton-based company State Securities Pty Ltd had agreed to an options deal that would deliver $10.5 million for the rollout of its natural hand sanitiser called “Invisi-Shield”.
State Securities was previously run by Mokbel associate Tom Karas and is now owned by his brother-in-law Nick Meletsis, a former nightclub owner who allegedly beat an associate with a baseball bat.
The recent funding deal appears to have escaped scrutiny from corporate regulators, while its shares have soared 1000 per cent in recent weeks amid speculation the company is poised to sign major contracts with international distributors.
Skin Elements claimed in the ASX announcement that State Securities had a “long history in both property and equity markets and has an extensive network of high net worth individuals and s708 qualified sophisticated investors”.
However, State Securities is not a conventional route for ASX companies seeking to raise capital.
Sources familiar with the company claim Mr Karas has been directly involved in the funding deal with Skin Elements, despite being declared bankrupt in 2015.
Mr Karas owes almost $67 million to the Australian Tax Office, according to a creditors report by Pitchers Partners on May 5, after battling with authorities for more than a decade over the source of his wealth.
In 2011, the ATO won a Supreme Court judgement against Mr Karas that ordered him to pay $21 million in taxes on unexplained income and assets, some of which were allegedly derived from business dealings with the Mokbel family drug empire.
By Cameron Houston, The Age, 16 May 2020
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