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£3.8bn North East battery megafactory in doubt again after Australian police raid new owners

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The future of Britishvolt’s planned North East battery ‘megafactory’ are up in the air once again after the offices of its new owner were raided by Australian police.

Investigators went to the offices of Scale Facilitation and SaniteX, owned by Australian entrepreneur David Collard, over alleged tax fraud.

Recharge Industries, a subsidiary of Scale Facilitation, bought Britishvolt earlier this year after it collapsed, but is yet to pay for the prospective plant site near the Port of Blyth.

Sources close to Collard, who is a former partner at accountancy giant PwC, said that the tax raid is due to a misunderstanding of the interaction between US and Australian tax filings and that all parties were co-operating.

Recharge Industries is ultimately owned and run by Scale Facilitation, a New York-based investment fund which has offices in Australia.

Recharge Industries bought the assets of Britishvolt after it went into administration despite the public backing of the UK government and individual politicians including former prime minister Boris Johnson.

Britishvolt had planned to build a £4bn plant in Cambois near Blyth, Northumberland to make batteries for electric vehicles and create around 3,000 skilled jobs.

However, the company struggled to make a profit and ran out of money in January.

A deadline for Recharge Industries to finalise and pay for the purchase of the site in Northumberland has been extended far beyond the original date of 31 March.

Insiders close to Recharge confirmed to the BBC that staff wages in Australia had gone unpaid for around two weeks but insisted those payments had now been made.

They said the company remained confident it could secure the funding to complete the purchase of the land near Blyth in the next two to four weeks.

The owners of Recharge are said to still be hopeful that a deal to develop the £4bn site can proceed.

 

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