Accountant faces court for allegedly helping client evade millions in tax

An experienced accountant is due to appear before the Downing Centre Local Court today (Tuesday, 11 February 2020), charged with 27 tax evasion and fraud-related offences, with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) alleging the 62-year-old woman attempted to evade more than $8 million in tax for a client.

The AFP is leading the investigation of this matter as part of the joint-agency Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT).  

The AFP allege that the woman promoted and facilitated an illegal family trust arrangement for her client for the purposes of minimising tax liability.

The AFP also allege that the woman knowingly lodged nine false income tax returns on behalf of the family trust. As a result, the trust beneficiaries allegedly avoided paying more than $8m in income tax.

Further, it is alleged that the woman concealed, destroyed and fabricated evidence in response to an ATO audit in an effort to make the false income tax returns appear legitimate. This includes allegedly making false representations about the family trust and company records to the ATO Commissioner, as well as submitting 37 false or misleading documents.

The woman faces the following charges:

  • nine counts of dishonestly causing a risk of a loss to a Commonwealth entity and knowing there is a substantial risk of the loss occurring, contrary to section 135.1(5) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
  • one count of dishonestly influencing a Commonwealth public official in the exercise of the official’s duties, contrary to section 135.1(7) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
  • 17 counts of knowingly use a false document with the intention of dishonestly influencing a Commonwealth public official in the exercise of the official’s duties, and if so accepted to dishonestly influencing the exercise of a public duty or function, contrary to section 145.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

AFP Commander Kirsty Schofield, Investigations Eastern Command, said these charges send a strong message to the financial services community that serious criminal activity and fraud will not be tolerated.

“This operation shows how SFCT investigators are working – tirelessly and meticulously – to ensure the integrity of our taxation system. It’s about ensuring funds are not illegally redirected from essential community services like roads, hospitals, and schools, into the pockets of a privileged few,” Cmdr. Schofield said.

The AFP is not alleging that the client or the accused’s firm at the time had any knowledge of the alleged offending.

For more on the SFCT, visit the ATO website here.

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