Australian tax authorities searched the offices of Britishvolt’s owner.
The idea of a new battery manufacturing in Northumberland has been hampered after Australian authorities searched the purchase of Britishvolt.
Over potential tax evasion, investigators went to the offices of Scale Facilitation and SaniteX, both owned by Australian entrepreneur David Collard.
After Britishvolt went bankrupt this year, Recharge Industries, a subsidiary of Scale Facilitation, purchased it.
However, it has yet to pay for a potential plant location near the Port of Blyth.
According to sources close to Mr Collard, a former partner at accounting firm PwC, the tax raid is the result of a misunderstanding of the connection between US and Australian tax files, and that all parties are cooperating.
Scale Facilitation, a New York-based investment fund with headquarters in Australia, eventually owns and runs Recharge Industries.
Despite the public support of politicians including as former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Recharge Industries purchased Britishvolt’s assets after it went into administration.
Britishvolt intended to establish a £4 billion plant in Cambois, near Blyth, Northumberland, to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles, creating approximately 3,000 skilled employment.
However, the company struggled to turn a profit and ran out of cash in January.
The deadline for Recharge Industries to finalize and pay for the acquisition of the Northumberland site has been extended well past the intended date of March 31.
Insiders close to Recharge confirmed that employees’ wages in Australia had gone unpaid for about two weeks, but assured that those payments had already been made.
They stated that the company was still hopeful that it would be able to get the finance necessary to finalize the purchase of the land near Blyth within the next two to four weeks.
According to the BBC, the owners of Recharge are still hopeful that a contract to build the £4 billion site will go ahead.
Recharge is scheduled to take a minority stake in a new business named North East Gigafactory Development LLP, which is owned by well-known and deep-pocketed investors Tritax and Abrdn.
The site’s initial goal for Recharge was to create battery storage technology rather than batteries for electric automobiles.
According to a source close to the situation, the government’s excitement for the initiative has waned.
The Australian owners have not met with either Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch or the Secretary for Energy Security and Net Zero, Grant Shapps, according to the BBC.
Nonetheless, it appears that the prospects for a quick start of a plant that is expected to provide thousands of jobs in the North East have been dashed once more.