THE Australian government said yesterday it had given up its 12-year international hunt for millions of dollars allegedly embezzled by a fugitive tycoon who died at his Andratx home in 2001. Entrepreneur Christopher Skase declared bankruptcy in 1991 after the collapse of his 1.5 billion Australian dollar (US$900 million) Qintex media and resort empire, claiming assets of A$5'000 (US$3'000) and debts of A$172 million (US$103 million). Skase, a former financial journalist, moved to Majorca after Australia's corporate watchdog began investigating his failed companies, sparking a 12-year search, “The Chase for Skase,” through a web of corporate structures in tax havens around the world. He died of cancer, aged 52, in August, 2001 in his rural home in Andratx.
Attorney General Daryl Williams said yesterday the government had been advised by the Skase bankruptcy trustee that it was fruitless to continue the hunt as the lost millions had been squandered, spent on legal battles and lost in failed Spanish property speculation. “The government accepts that the estate of Mr. Christopher Skase has few remaining assets,” Williams told reporters yesterday. ”“Mr. Skase had a very elaborate set of corporate structures involving several countries that made the pursuit of the assets very difficult,” he said. Facing more than 60 criminal charges in Australia, Skase spent the last years of his life fighting Australian government attempts to extradite him from Majorca.

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