Tasmanian Police are investigating whisky makers Nant Distilling Company in Bothwell, central Tassie, amid several allegations of fraud.
Almost 900 investors have purchased barrels of Nant’s award-winning whisky, costing up to $14K, since production started in 2008.
Nant assured investors they would buy back the barrels once they matured – with investors receiving 9.55% compound interest. This way the company would be able to raise the capital to cover the costs of production and redevelopment of the distillery.
But an audit by Australian Whisky Holdings revealed that over 1,300 barrels of whisky simply do not exist, with 720 missing, and more either never filled or already decanted, bottled and sold without investors knowing.
An investor who bought 14 barrels of the whisky for $170K said he “welcomed the investigation“.
Australian Whisky Holdings also found that the company was in a massive amount of debt, owing the Australian Tax Office more than $1 million.
Nant’s founder Keith Batt declared himself bankrupt at the end of 2015, with $16 million in debt from previous property ventures. He then relinquished his role as director of the company, and was replaced by his wife, lawyer and accountant.
Staff and contractors at a number of now-shut-down Nant bars, and at the distillery in Bothwell, claim to have been underpaid, or not paid at all.
Nant Distilling Company was placed into receivership in March this year.
In an email to investors, Detective Sergeant JL Ansell, who will be a part of the investigation, said: “A preliminary assessment has been made of the evidence currently available and a determination has been made that a criminal investigation into the allegations will be conducted.”