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  • Serious financial crime case studies

    While the majority of people comply with their tax obligations, there are a small number of people who deliberately do the wrong thing. The joint-agency Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) was established to respond to this, targeting the more serious financial crime in Australia.

    Second sentencing for Australia's largest tax fraud case

    On 29 March 2018, Michael Issakidis faced the Supreme Court of NSW for his involvement in the largest prosecuted tax fraud case in Australia’s history.

    Alongside his co-conspirator Anthony Dickson, Issakidis deliberately absorbed $450 million of otherwise assessable income through the use of complex domestic and international trust and tax evasion structures, causing a loss to the Commonwealth of $135 million. By creating a web of false identities and siphoning money offshore, the pair acquired approximately $63 million.

    Issakidis was sentenced to 10 years and three months jail for his involvement in the operation. This followed the 2015 sentencing of Dickson, whose original 11-year sentence was increased to 14 years on appeal.

    The significant penalties handed down to both Issakidis and Dickson demonstrate the success of the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) in dealing with those who deliberately cheat the system. As a member of the SFCT, the ATO is equipped with the resources, data-matching capability and international and domestic intelligence-sharing relationships to uncover even the most complex tax evasion schemes.

    People who deliberately avoid paying the correct amount of tax will be caught and will face the full force of the law.

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    Two men sentenced for money laundering and tax evasion

    On 10 August 2018, cousins Anthony Castagna and Robert Agius were sentenced following a complex tax-evasion and money laundering investigation involving millions of dollars in offshore accounts.

    Castagna, 70, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment with a four year non-parole period and Agius, 68 was sentenced to seven years six months to serve out eight years non-parole. This includes a previous sentence for an unrelated tax evasion matter after being found guilty in 2012 for operating schemes via his Vanuatu-based accounting firm.

    The two men were sentenced for their involvement in tax evasion and money laundering schemes which led to them failing to declare of $5.7 million of income and bonuses.

    An offshore company in Vanuatu, owned by Agius, was used to hold funds before using fake loans to return the money to Australian shores without paying tax.

    This has resulted in a yet another significant win for the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) following the joint Australian Federal Police led investigation.

    Since the establishment of the SFCT, more than 1,043 audits and reviews have been completed, raising liabilities of over $738 million. Seven people including Agius and Castagna, have received custodial sentences and there are currently 23 criminal, civil and intelligence operations in progress under the SFCT.

    Prosecutions send a strong message to those thinking about cheating the system. No matter how complex or how long an investigation takes, we will never tire or give in, in the pursuit of justice and protecting the Australian community.

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    Last modified: 28 Mar 2019QC 58431