14th person charged in relation to $20 million fraud investigation

A man from Sydney's inner west will today become the 14th person to face charges relating to a deceptive $20 million fraud and money laundering operation.

The 54-year-old Earlwood man is set to appear before Downing Centre Local Court today, charged with recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime to the value of $100,000 or more, contrary to section 400.4(2) of the Criminal Code (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

He was issued a court attendance notice by Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigators on Thursday, 9 September 2021, as part of Operation Bordelon, following a close evidence review by federal prosecutors at the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. Operation Bordelon is a Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) joint agency operation into a criminal syndicate using labour hire and payroll companies associated with the building and construction industry to defraud the Commonwealth.

Read the original media release for this operation.

It will be alleged in court the man received and possessed a total of $456,150 that was proceeds of an illegal scheme to siphon off money that should have been remitted to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and that he was reckless as to the fact that the money was the proceeds of crime.

He allegedly used two personal bank accounts to receive money from five other corporate entities set up to facilitate the fraud scheme. It will also be alleged the man was the sole director and secretary of a corporate entity that received payments from another entity established by the syndicate to launder money illegally diverted as part of the scheme.

AFP Detective Superintendent Matthew Ciantar said the growing list of people charged under Operation Bordelon highlighted the tenacity of AFP investigators to uncover the entire scope of criminal offending committed by this syndicate.

"The AFP understands that the sole purpose of organised crime is to make money, and our best chance to inflict lasting damage on those seeking to accumulate significant wealth at the expense of the Australian community is to target their efforts to legitimise their proceeds of crime," he said.

"We issued a warning in August 2021 that anyone involved in this scheme should be worried as we would lay further charges if the evidence allowed. These new charges highlight our commitment to ensuring serious criminal activity is brought to account, and serves as another warning to others in the professional services industry seeking to facilitate the activities of organised crime."

ATO Deputy Commissioner and SFCT Chief Will Day said one of the common features of serious financial crime is businesses that may appear legitimate on the surface, but when you peel back the layers you discover webs of criminal activity.

"Financial crimes cause real harm to people's livelihoods and line the pockets of criminals. The SFCT takes these matters extremely seriously, and this latest charge shows that we take firm action against those who think they won't be caught," he said.

The SFCT is 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. As at 30 June 2021, the Taskforce has progressed cases that have resulted in:

  • Completion of 1,375 audits and reviews
  • Conviction and sentencing of 15 people
  • Raised liabilities of $1.088 billion
  • Collected $510 million

For more information on the SFCT and to download the Serious Financial Crime Identikit visit ato.gov.au/SFCT

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