A Melbourne businessman and former tax agent has today been sentenced to two years jail to be released immediately on a $5,000 good behaviour bond, after pleading guilty to two counts of dishonestly obtaining a gain from the Commonwealth. Mr David Brandi obtained $135,248 in fraudulent GST refunds lodged on behalf of his clients. This amount has been repaid in full.
Mr Brandi was the principal of Baitana Peak PTY LTD (trading as Brandi & Co), a registered tax and accountancy firm, at the time of his offending. In his capacity as a registered tax agent, Mr Brandi prepared business activity statements (BAS) on behalf of a client – a group of property development companies involved in constructing residential units. Last year, Mr Brandi had his registration terminated by the Tax Practitioners Board on the grounds that he’d breached the Code of Professional Conduct by failing to act honestly and with integrity.
From January 2010 to March 2010, Mr Brandi falsified a number of BAS – including extra invoice amounts attributed to construction costs, dishonestly inflating the GST refund claims. The resulting refunds were deposited into the Baitana Peak’s bank account.
During the investigation, the ATO uncovered emails from Mr Brandi telling employees to “keep their traps and emails shut” about the false refunds. It was also uncovered that Mr Brandi instructed one of his employees to provide false documents in an attempt to substantiate the claims.
Assistant Commissioner Ian Read said Mr Brandi’s behaviour was particularly disappointing given the trusted position he held.
“Tax and BAS agents play a vital role in contributing to and protecting the integrity of the Australian tax and super systems, and while the majority of registered agents do the right thing, unfortunately there are some agents who take advantage of their trusted position for financial benefit.”
The ATO has a program dedicated to identifying and addressing agents whose behaviour threatens the integrity of the tax and super systems, their clients and the wider Australian community.
“Our focus is on supporting those who are doing the right thing. We take a firm stance against those whose actions damage the integrity of the tax system, including against members of the tax profession engaging in this type of behaviour,” Mr Read said.
“Mr Brandi’s actions show a complete disregard for not only the law, but also his clients’ trust. Tax fraud is not a victimless crime – those who engage in this criminal behaviour are obtaining an unfair advantage over those who do the right thing,” Mr Read said.
You can anonymously report tax evasion and crime activities to the ATO via the app or by calling 1800 060 062.
This matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions