Thursday, December 7, 2023

Trio found guilty of role in $105 million tax fraud

Three men, aged 36 to 52, have been found guilty in the NSW Supreme Court today for their roles in a syndicate alleged to have conducted a $105 million tax fraud over a three year period.

The trio were found guilty of conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth and conspiring to deal with the proceeds of crime valued at $1 million or more.

The maximum penalty they face after being convicted of conspiring to deal in proceeds of crime valued at $1 million or more is 25 years’ imprisonment.

A total of 16 people were charged as part of the AFP-led investigation, codenamed Operation Elbrus that began in 2016 and received significant assistance from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as part of the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT).

The investigation exposed large-scale and organised tax fraud and money laundering conspiracies that used payroll service entities to divert monies payable to the ATO as Pay-As-You-Go withholding (PAYGW) tax and Goods and Services tax (GST). All matters were prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Kirsty Schofield praised the dedication and tenacity of the investigators who helped shepherd the six-year investigation through an eight-month criminal trial.

“Taxation fraud investigations are inherently complex, but the scale and breadth of alleged criminal offending we identified in this matter made it a more challenging task,” Assistant Commissioner Schofield said.

“It is important we see matters such as this through to a final result in court and show that Australians will not tolerate this type of organised criminal activity that ultimately steals from us all.”

Acting Deputy Commissioner and SFCT Chief John Ford said today’s outcome sends a clear warning to tax cheats that you will be caught, and you will be held to account.

“This isn’t the case of an accidental oversight – this was blatant and deliberate fraud that robbed the Australian community.”

“Tax crime is not victimless. It takes money out of the hip pockets of all Australians, reducing the budget that is available to fund community services that many people rely on,” he said.

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