Adelaide man charged over alleged $38.5m tax fraud

This is a joint media release between the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Australian Federal Police.

A 74-year-old South Australian man is scheduled to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court today (30 July, 2021), after being charged on summons on 21 June, 2021, in relation to an alleged taxation fraud spanning 15 years and totalling more than $38.5 million.

Authorities allege the accused failed to disclose overseas trust assets in his income tax returns and therefore evaded income tax in Australia between 1999 and 2013.

The Australian Federal Police-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) has also obtained restraining orders in the Supreme Court of South Australia under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) over a significant amount of assets.

AFP Southern Command Acting Commander Investigations Raegan Stewart said the charges follow a complex investigation involving joint-agency co-operation and engagement with overseas law enforcement bodies.

“The laying of charges against the alleged offender as well as the obtaining of restraining orders in this investigation serves as a clear warning that the Australian Federal Police will take action in relation to allegations of serious financial crime,” Acting Commander Stewart said.

The AFP in conjunction with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) undertook a joint investigation as part of the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT). The investigation also involved international law-enforcement agencies from the Bailiwick of Jersey, the United States, the United Kingdom and the British Virgin Islands.

“We are committed to continuing to work together, alongside our international law enforcement agency partners in investigations into this kind of offending, seek to remove the benefits derived from crime, identify those responsible and put them before the court,” AFP Acting Commander Stewart said.

SFCT Chief and ATO Deputy Commissioner Will Day said that “behind every serious financial crime are people who deceive, cheat and steal from everyday Australians”.

“Each one of us is a victim, because it takes millions of dollars away that could be invested into essential services such as education and health. That’s why it’s vital we continue to work together to stop serious financial crime and the devastating impacts it has on the community,” Deputy Commissioner Day said.

“The Serious Financial Crime Taskforce is making a difference and these charges demonstrate the SFCT’s ability to deliver a whole-of-government response to target criminal behaviour. It sends a clear message to the community that we do bring those who try to exploit Australia’s tax and super systems to account for their actions.”

“We have further reinforced our ability to tackle tax crime through the additional work of the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement Alliance. The collaborative work of tax enforcement agencies across Australia, Canada, Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States poses an enhanced capability to tackle tax crime such as in this matter.”

The accused is facing 15 charges relating to the following offences:

  • Defraud the Commonwealth contrary to section 29D of the Crimes Act 1914
  • Obtain a financial advantage by deception contrary to section 134.2 of the Criminal Code (Cth)

Each offence is punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment. The matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

ACIC Acting Executive Director Intelligence Operations Dr Katie Willis said that the complexity of emerging financial crime issues will require ongoing multi-agency cooperation to better understand the nature of the crime and to develop mitigation strategies.

“The ACIC is committed to protecting Australia from criminal threats and with ongoing collaboration with our domestic and international law enforcement partners, we will continue to stop financially-motivated criminals exploiting emerging opportunities and perceived gaps in law enforcement information,” Dr Willis said.

The SFCT is a multi-agency taskforce targeting the most serious and complex forms of financial crime in Australia.

About the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce

The SFCT is an ATO-led joint agency taskforce. The SFCT 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.

The SFCT’s current priorities include technology enabled crime (cybercrime), offshore tax evasion, illegal phoenix activity and crimes impacting the ATO-administered COVID-19 stimulus measures.

The SFCT is backed globally by the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5). The J5 brings together the leading tax crime, offshore tax evasion, cryptocurrency and cyber experts from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. These countries share intelligence at speed, build capability and conduct operational activities in Australia and around the world. For more on the results of the Taskforce and the J5 visit: www.ato.gov.au/sfct

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