A former Sydney tax accountant has been sentenced to an increased term of imprisonment by the Court of Criminal Appeal after his appeal to overturn a conviction for attempting to pervert the course of justice was denied by a court this week (Monday, 10 May).
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) charged the 73-year-old 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 issued the man a court attendance notice on 15 September 2016 for the criminal charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, contrary to section s43(1) of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).
The first trial in 2018 ended after the jury could not reach a unanimous decision. Following a re-trial in October 2019, a jury found the man guilty on 26 November the same year. On 17 December 2019, he was sentenced to a non-parole period of one year and eight months.
The man subsequently 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 this 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.