The Perth Mint Swindle is the popular name for the robbery of 49 gold bars weighing 68 kg from the Perth Mint in Western Australia on 22 June, 1982. The bullion was valued at A$653,000 at that time (2011:$2.02 million). As of 8 January 2018, the value of the 68 kilograms of gold would approach AUD $3.7 Million.

According to police at the time, three brothers, Ray, Peter and Brian Mickelberg, orchestrated the robbery. The three went to trial and were found guilty of the conspiracy and sentenced in 1983 to twenty, sixteen and twelve years in jail respectively.

All three convictions were overturned in 2004. To date the case remains unsolved and continues to be fought by the Mickelbergs who maintain their innocence and allege a conspiracy by the Western Australia Police to frame them.

Note: Some Information on the Perth Mint Swindle not mentioned in Wikipedia

The Late and former Detective-Sergeant Don Hancock, who was later promoted to head of the State Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB)
came around to a person's apartment in Perth ( before the police tried to frame the Mickelbergs) at 6 am a few days after the 22nd June, 1982 with two car loads of detectives, to search this person's house and take him away to try and frame him for the Perth Mint Swindle. Because it seemed that it would be too difficult to frame this person for the Perth Mint Swindle, the WA Police headed by Late and former Detective-Sergeant Don Hancock, decided that the Mickelberg brothers were easier to frame for the Perth Mint Swindle, for a number of reasons. The full story is being published in a new book called..
The Dark Secrets in the History of Perth, Western Australia (The Untold Story).

Mickelberg Brothers

Soon after the robbery police investigations focused on the Mickelberg brothers. According to the police, the brothers stole cheques from a Perth building society and then fooled the mint into accepting those cheques in exchange for gold bullion which, it was alleged, the brothers had a courier pick up.  The gold was picked up by a security company who delivered it to an office in Perth and then to Jandakot Airport, from where it seemingly disappeared.

In a separate matter, in September 1982, the three brothers, their parents and another man Brian Pozzi were charged over a matter relating to a manufactured gold nugget known as the "Yellow Rose of Texas". Perth Businessman Alan Bond had purchased the nugget for $350,000 in November 1980. It was later found to be worth less than $150,000 and Raymond Mickelberg and Brian Pozzi pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to fraud at their June 1984 trial.

After serving nine months of his jail term and having his conviction overturned on appeal, Brian was released from jail but died in a light aircraft crash on 27 February 1986, when the twin-engined Aero Commander he was flying ran out of fuel near Canning Dam on the outskirts of Perth. Whilst in prison, Ray and Peter embarked on a series of seven appeals against their convictions, essentially on the grounds that their confessions had been fabricated by police investigators. Ray and Peter served eight and six years of their sentences respectively before being released on parole.

In 1989, 55 kg of gold pellets, said to have been from the swindle, were found outside the gates of TVW-7 (currently Channel Seven Perth), a Perth television station, with an anonymous note addressed to one of the station's reporters—Alison Fan—protesting the Mickelberg's innocence and claiming that a prominent Perth businessman was behind the swindle

Police Officers

Don Hancock

The senior investigating officer in the case was Detective-Sergeant Don Hancock who was later promoted to head of the State Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB). Hancock and a friend, Lou Lewis, died in a bomb explosion outside Hancock's home in Lathlain in September 2001. Hancock was murdered by Gypsy Joker Sid Reid in revenge for the murder of Billy Grierson, allegedly by Hancock after Grierson "made obscene comments in front of his daughter." A subsequent (2003) prosecution of an alleged accomplice was unsuccessful. 

At the 2006 inquest into the October 2000 shooting death Billy Grierson, the coroner stated: "There is a significant body of evidence which suggests Mr Hancock may have been the shooter," but the Gypsy Jokers "could have a large number of enemies." he was unable to determine who Grierson's killer was because Hancock was now dead, police had failed to conduct routine forensic science tests and had failed to search Hancock's home. The relevant senior investigating officer was Kim Gage, head of Kalgoorlie detectives, who had reportedly spent the day drinking with Hancock and others. Reid was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in jail which was reduced to 15 years for helping police in the failed second prosecution.

Tony Lewandowski

In 2002, midway through a State Royal Commission into police corruption, a retired police officer, Tony Lewandowski, who had been at the centre of the case, made a confession of his involvement in fabricating evidence which was used to help frame the brothers. Lewandowski's senior officer during the investigation was Don Hancock. The two were the only people present at the brothers' interviews following the Mickelberg arrests. 

"(On that day), Don Hancock came into the room and told me to make Peter strip naked. Don then went up to Peter and gave him two or three quick punches in the solar plexus. The statements purportedly taken from Peter Mickelberg on July 26, 1982, were in fact not taken in Peter's presence that day, but were a fabrication made by Don Hancock and myself shortly after September 2, 1982. I gave evidence at the trial and numerous appeals. All that evidence in relation to the so-called confessions was false." —Statement of Tony Lewandowski

Lewandowski was subsequently charged with attempting to pervert the course of justicemaking false statements, fabricating evidence and perjury.  In May 2004, just before facing trial, Lewandowski apparently committed suicide,  but there has been some speculation as to whether or not that may have been staged to cover his murder.  Although now dead, Lewandowski's confession directly implicated Hancock in fabricating evidence in the Mickelberg case. 

Convictions Quashed

In July 2004 the Western Australian Court of Criminal Appeal quashed the brothers' convictions after seven unsuccessful attempts. The judge ruled that with the suppression of their sentence, they were entitled to a presumption of innocence. The Assistant Police Commissioner, Mel Hay, expressed disappointment with the decision which prompted a threat of a defamation lawsuit from the brothers. The brothers subsequently sued the Western Australian government for libel, and as part of the settlement, the West Australian police issued a public apology in December 2007.[10]

After lodging claims for compensation, in January 2008 State Attorney-General Jim McGinty offered $500,000 in ex-gratia payments to each brother for the "injustice done to them".  The payment followed $658,672 paid to cover legal costs of their two appeals. The Mickelbergs' lawyer had asked for $950,000 in compensation for Ray and $750,000 for Peter.

Books on the Case

Author Avon Lovell wrote a book about the case in 1985: The Mickelberg Stitch, which alleged questionable investigation practices by the police, including production of unsigned confessions and a forged fingerprint.  The police union collected a levy of $1 per week from each member to fund legal action against Lovell and his publishers and distributors to suppress publication of the book. It was estimated that between one and two million dollars was raised. The book was banned by the State Government, but was still freely available to be read at the J S Battye Library. The ban was eventually lifted.

A second book by Lovell, Split Image, was published in 1990  and met a similar fate to the first. This ban was also lifted later.

In March 2011, Lovell launched a third book on the case, Litany of Lies,  at about the same time that Antonio Buti wrote on the subject.

In Popular Culture

Two telemovies based on the swindle have been made.

One actor, Caroline McKenzie, appeared in both features, playing Detective Ljiljana Cvijic in the 1984 version and Peg Mickelberg in 2012.



Published on 28 Feb 2012

Facebook: Twitter: THE GREAT MINT SWINDLE is an extraordinary tale about the Mickelberg brothers who become embroiled in the most famous gold heist in Australian history. It is a mysterious 20-year saga about the fight to clear their names over a crime that has never been solved.


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