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Friday, June 21, 2024

Former accountant slapped with 6 years jail after appealing original 20 month sentence

A 73-year-old former Sydney tax accountant has had his jail term increased from 20 months to six years after his appeal to overturn a conviction for attempting to pervert the course of justice was denied this week.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) charged the man in 2016 over a false witness testimony given during civil proceedings in the Federal Court in 2013.

“During the tax evasion investigation, a witness gave evidence relating to his Swiss-based company’s apparent ownership of offshore companies. This testimony was fabricated at the direction of the Sydney man, who had coached the witness to give false evidence,” the AFP said in a statement.

The man’s first trial in 2018 ended after the jury could not reach an unanimous decision. A re-trial in October 2019 saw the man found guilty and he was subsequently sentenced to a non-parole period of one year and eight months.

The man appealed his conviction and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) lodged an appeal against the sentence as being manifestly inadequate.

On May 10 2021, the Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed the man’s appeal against his conviction, while the Crown appeal against the inadequate sentence was successful. The original sentence was subsequently quashed and the man was re-sentenced to a six-year term of imprisonment with a non-parole period of three years and six months. He will be eligible for parole on 10 November 2023.

AFP Eastern Command Detective Superintendent Matt Ciantar said the outcome was an important one for maintaining the integrity of the Australian legal system.

“We investigate and put people before the courts – and the public should feel confident that anyone who attempts to interfere with the judicial process will face serious consequences and punishment for that conduct,” Det Supt Ciantar said.

The tax evasion investigation linked to this man began under the ATO’s Project Wickenby, established to protect the integrity of Australia’s financial and regulatory systems.

This remit now sits within the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT), an ATO-led joint-agency taskforce established on 1 July 2015. It brings together the knowledge, resources and experience of relevant law enforcement and regulatory agencies to identify and address the most serious and complex forms of financial crime.

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