A Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) investigation into a $3 million dollar fraud against the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has yesterday (Thursday 18 March, 2021) led to the arrest of a 37-year-old Sydney man.
The man was charged after $3 million in GST refunds were diverted into accounts controlled by him, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Taxation Office said in a joint media statement.
The joint Australian Federal Police (AFP) and ATO SFCT investigation began in February 2021 after the ATO became aware of fraudulent activity targeting the tax information of Australian companies.
The matter was referred to the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) and on 1 March 2021, the CACT obtained restraining orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) over multiple bank accounts and a luxury vehicle, worth a combined value of approximately $2.73 million, suspected to be the proceeds of the fraudulent activity.
AFP officers yesterday also executed a search warrant at the man’s residence with the assistance of the ATO.
The 37-year-old man was arrested and charged with dealing in the proceeds of crime, contrary to section 400.3(2) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) and appeared before Central Local Court today (Friday 19 March 2021).
The maximum penalty for this offence is 12 years imprisonment.
Commander Investigations Kirsty Schofield said the AFP is committed to stamping out fraud against the Commonwealth and remained committed to working alongside Commonwealth and state partner agencies to identify and disrupt alleged fraud activities.
“We have a range of tools at our disposal, in this instance we were able to deprive individuals of the proceeds and benefits of their crimes whilst ensuring the funds weren’t able to be dissolved or moved offshore. Fraud is not a victimless crime; it is a crime that impacts directly upon the community,” Commander Schofield said.
“Partnerships like the SFCT mean we can facilitate the sharing of information quickly between agencies which helps bring offenders to justice.”
ATO Deputy Commissioner and SFCT Chief Will Day said this case demonstrates the ability of the SFCT to deliver a whole of government response to target criminal behaviour.
“This case should send a clear message to would-be criminals that we will find them – quickly, decisively and thoroughly – and we will bring them to account for their actions,” Mr Day said.
“We have robust systems in place that stop this sort of crime, and the combined intelligence and force of 10 Government departments and agencies.”
The SFCT is an ATO-led joint-agency taskforce. 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.
The AFP-led CACT was formed in 2011 as part of a multi-agency crackdown on criminal assets, bringing together the resources and expertise of the AFP, Australian Taxation Office, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, and Australian Border Force.
Together, these agencies trace, restrain and ultimately confiscate criminal assets.