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  • Archived serious tax crime investigation results

    Below is a summary of serious tax crime investigations for previous periods. They are the result of the combined efforts from the ATO and our partner agencies who, with community support, keep our tax and superannuation system fair.

    Serious tax crime joint investigations – July to December 2017

    Result

    Details

    State

    27 months jail – non-parole period 15 months

    Anthony ROCK from Newcastle NSW lodged four income tax returns via his tax agent. The agent queried the excessive amounts of PAYGW. Refunds totalling $555,924.80 for the 4 years were stopped prior to payment.

    NSW

    Arrest

    A 56-year-old man from northern NSW was arrested when he surrendered himself to police. He was charged with attempted tax fraud to the value of $10,229,360, but had failed to attend court resulting in the issue of a bench warrant.

    NSW

    3 years jail – no parole

    Phillip LEACH was found guilty on 12 charges of lodging BAS across three entities claiming GST credits that were found to be false. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment without parole. A reparation order of $134,011.99 has been made by the courts.

    QLD

    42 months jail – non-parole period of 14 months

    William FEENEY was the sole Director of a labour hire company and was found guilty and sentenced to 42 months jail for failing to report and remit PAYGW. A reparation order of $1,425,194 has been issued by the court.

    QLD

    Arrest

    A 55-year-old man from the north coast of NSW was arrested in relation to tax crimes with a value of $226,043. He was arrested after coming to the attention of NSW Police for allegedly impersonating a police officer. He was living in bushland. He failed to appear at a 2009 trial and a bench warrant was issued. He was reported as a missing person after his disappearance.

    NSW

    29 months jail

    Nayanaka SAMARAKOON, a 38-year-old tax agent from Glen Iris Victoria, was sentenced to 29 months jail, with a non-parole period of 18 months, for claiming government grants his company was not entitled to.

    VIC

    4 years jail

    Jose LOPEZ from Melbourne, was found guilty of registering business and falsely claiming GST credits he was not entitled to. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 28 months. A reparation order of $407,213 was issued by the court.

    VIC

    $5,000 fine

    Bronwyn ROBINS, a 31-year-old woman from Perth, submitted four BAS claiming a GST for business which was not in operation. She was found guilty and received a fine of $5,000.

    WA

    $5,000 fine

    Benjamin KANE provided false documents during the audit process, to substantiate claims made on BAS lodged. He was found guilty of three charges and received a fine of $5,000. All monies have been repaid to the ATO, including a penalty of $8,300.

    WA

    Arrest

    A 26-year-old Queensland man was arrested on 106 charges of identity crime and tax fraud, totalling over $560,000, in a joint operation between the ATO and Queensland Cybercrime Police.

    QLD

    42 months jail – non-parole period of 12 months

    Gregory SALIGARI was found guilty of 16 charges for false claims made on BAS lodged. He was sentenced to 42 months jail with a non-parole period of 12 months (to be served as 30 months period detention).

    VIC

    8 years jail – non-parole period of 48 months

    Peter STAMATOPOULOS, 51-year-old male from WA, was a partner at an accounting firm and used client and family member identities to obtain fraudulent tax refund payments. He was convicted on 63 charges and obtained $2,007,060 over the course of several years. A reparation order of $884,664.97 was made by the courts. The matter is currently pending appeal.

    WA

    3 years jail – non-parole period of 12  months

    WILSON, a 64-year-old male from Chapel Hill Queensland falsified nine BAS to obtain $217,134 in refunds he was not entitled to. Documents provided at audit were determined to be false. He was convicted on two charges and sentenced to 36 months jail with a non-parole period of 12 months; when released he will be subject to a three year good behaviour bond with a recognisance of $1,000. A reparation order was made by the court for $217,134.

    QLD

    Arrest

    A 49-year-old man from NSW was arrested in December 2017 for conspiring to cause a $2 million loss to the Commonwealth. Proceedings have also commenced against his two accomplices.

    NSW

    Serious tax crime joint investigations – January to June 2017

    Result

    Details

    State

    3 years jail

    Pornpat CHUENSUKJIT, from New South Wales (NSW), acted as a third-party lodger and lodged 217 income tax returns for the 2010 income year, with three separate tax agents. The returns contained false information and Chuensukjit was convicted on three charges. A reparation order of $652,862 was made by the courts.

    NSW

    18 months jail

    Salvatore ARCURI, a tax agent from NSW, lodged his 2011 tax return and an amendment, which contained false information. He was convicted on two charges and sentenced to 18 months in jail.

    NSW

    7 months periodic detention

    Artin ETMEKDJIAN, a tax agent from South Australia, submitted to the ATO three forms with the intention of dishonestly influencing a Commonwealth public official.

    SA

    5 years jail

    A woman from NSW, while receiving Centrelink benefits over a 4½ year period, lodged 140 false business activity statements (BAS) on behalf of eight related entities, claiming GST refunds for purported business expenditure of $9 million. A reparation order of $394,550 has been made by the courts.

    NSW

    18 months suspended sentence

    Anthony LANZI, a Queensland man, was convicted of three offences for submitting BAS when no refunds were due and providing false documents at audit.

    QLD

    2 years suspended jail

    A Melbourne tax agent, Augustine ADAMS, was convicted of three charges and sentenced to 2 years jail (suspended) for lodging false tax returns on behalf of his clients.

    VIC

    acres of tobacco crop destroyed

    Victorian police, together with ATO investigators, executed a warrant over a property near Bacchus Marsh, where a crop of tobacco of approximately four acres was seized and destroyed. The estimated excise value was $1.5 million.

    VIC

    Illicit tobacco seized and destroyed

    A warrant was executed in March 2017 at Macorna, Victoria, to seize and destroy a tobacco crop of approximately 15 acres and 12½ hessian bags of dried tobacco. The estimated excise value was $5.8 million.

    VIC

    93,000 tobacco plants destroyed

    Investigators, together with NSW police, executed a warrant at a property in Cooma, destroying a tobacco crop of approximately 93,000 plants (1.2 tonnes of plant matter), with an estimated excise value of $11.8 million.

    NSW

    Warrant executed and equipment seized

    A warrant was executed over a property in Cobram, Victoria, where a large amount of equipment and flavours were seized in relation to the manufacturing of alcohol.

    VIC

    Tobacco seedlings destroyed

    In April 2017, a warrant was executed over a property in Rosewhite, Victoria, where tobacco plants were found growing in hothouses. Approximately 9,660 seedlings were destroyed, with an estimated excise value of $745,000.

    VIC

    12 acres of tobacco crop destroyed

    An anonymous tip-off to Victorian police saw a warrant executed at a property in Euroa, where approximately 12 acres of tobacco crop was destroyed. The estimated excise value was $4.6 million.

    VIC

    Illicit tobacco seized and destroyed

    Approximately 5,400 kilograms of tobacco leaf and 12 acres of tobacco were destroyed when a warrant was executed over a property in Cobram, Victoria, in April 2017. Equipment related to the manufacture was also seized. The estimated excise value was almost $9.0 million.

    VIC

    Serious tax crime joint investigations – June to December 2016

    Result

    Details

    State

    7½ years jail

    A Brisbane man, Andrew HURST, was sentenced to 7½ years jail after being convicted of 101 offences pertaining to the lodgment of false GST claims in the amount of $1.58 million. Reparations for $1.58 million were also ordered.

    QLD

    4 years jail

    An Adelaide man, Abel PRASAD, was sentenced to more than four years jail for GST-related tax crime and immigration offences. Reparations of $65,394 were ordered in favour of the ATO for the outstanding GST monies.

    SA

    75 fraud charges

    A former Adelaide company director was charged with $3.8 million of fraud in relation to false fuel rebate claims.

    SA

    3 years jail

    A Brisbane woman, Lisa BISHOP, was sentenced to three years jail and ordered to repay $132,552 that was allegedly claimed via false business activity statements (BAS).

    QLD

    123,000 tobacco plants seized

    Investigators executed a warrant in Victoria, seizing an estimated 123,000 illegally grown tobacco plants with a potential excise value of more than $10 million.

    VIC

    63 fraud charges

    A Perth accountant pleaded guilty to 63 charges of fraud relating to the lodgment of 112 tax returns containing false information, and dishonestly obtaining $1.79 million.

    WA

    2 years jail

    A Victorian man, Kritsakul THAVAPITAK, was sentenced to 2 years jail following his part in a refund fraud, obtaining $1.335 million in refunds.

    NSW

    2½ years jail

    A Victorian man, Roberto QUATTROCCHI, was sentenced to 2½ years jail for obtaining a financial advantage of $392,000 by deception. Reparations for $227,000 were also ordered. Patricia GARASI, was sentenced to 16 months jail for her involvement in the GST fraud.

    VIC

    3 years jail

    Nine individuals – Christopher MILES, Bradley POTTS, James CRAIG, Adam STEWART, James THORN, Mark BURGE, Lauren EDNEY, Sarah HACKETT and Sharryne THORN – have been sentenced as a result of an investigation into prisoner refund fraud. Various sentences were imposed on the individuals. In one case, the offender received a sentence of three years.

    NSW

    18 months jail

    A Perth man, Rasmus SPIEGEL, was sentenced to 18 months jail for dealing in the proceeds of crime which involved $161,000 dishonestly obtained from tax refunds. This was a result of a joint investigation between Western Australian police and ATO investigators.

    A second man was subsequently sentenced to imprisonment for the same offence.

    WA

    18 months jail

    A Perth man, Nicholas GASKIN, was sentenced to 18 months jail for lodging false GST claims and fake supporting documents to the ATO in an attempt to scam an $18,000 tax refund.

    WA

    warrant executed

    Investigators and the Australia Federal Police executed a search warrant in Adelaide relating to the lodgment of five BAS and attempting to obtain $1.4 million in false GST and wine equalisation tax (WET) refunds, prior to refunds being paid.

    SA

    6 months jail

    A Victorian man, Antonio DATTILO was sentenced to six months jail (released immediately) and a good behaviour bond for two years for his involvement in the lodgment of false BAS, obtaining refunds totalling $95,000 and attempting to obtain a further $82,500.

    VIC

    6 warrants executed

    Investigators executed 6 search warrants on the Gold Coast and in Victoria in respect to Crimes (Taxation Offences) Act 1980 offences pertaining to superannuation and alleged phoenix offences.

    QLD and VIC

    3 months jail

    A Western Australian man, John SHARRATT, was sentenced to three months imprisonment for the general dishonesty offence of influencing a Commonwealth public official by providing a false document to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in relation to an appeal against an ATO decision.

    WA

    Seizure of illegal stills

    Investigators, with the assistance of Queensland police, executed warrants at separate premises in Queensland seizing two illegal stills, items/materials used in the distillation of spirits and illegally manufactured spirits.

    QLD

    114,000 illegal tobacco plants seized

    Investigators executed warrants in New South Wales seizing an estimated 114,000 illegally grown tobacco plants with a potential excise value of more than $8.7 million.

    NSW

    Arrest

    A former Gold Coast tax agent was arrested having departed Australia in 2008. She is awaiting trial for lodging false income tax returns under a long-standing operation, which has already resulted in the conviction of three others.

    QLD

    Investigation spotlight: Man convicted of income tax fraud

    A 41-year-old Victorian man, Mr Kritsakul Thavapitak, was sentenced to 2 years jail, following his part in a refund fraud syndicate that used identity crime to impersonate taxpayers and lodge fraudulent claims. We investigated the matter, culminating in money laundering charges.

    Over a two-month period in 2010, Mr Thavapitak received and dealt with $82,879 in fraudulent tax refunds. The fraudulent tax refunds stemmed from a series of frauds committed on the ATO, involving the lodgment of 13 false income tax returns on behalf of 13 unknowing taxpayers.

    Refunds were either moved by Mr Thavapitak to other accounts or withdrawn as cash.

    Our investigations proved that the taxpayers were not employed as reported in the returns.

    Mr Thavapitak was also ordered to pay reparation for the amount of $82,879.

    The ATO works with other agencies and the community where appropriate to ensure that those who do the wrong thing are caught and prosecuted.

    The crimes are not honest mistakes on a tax return – they are calculated, deliberate attempts to commit fraud and avoid tax. The perpetrators are stealing from the Australian community and the Commonwealth and we will ensure they face the consequences of their actions.

    See also:

    Last modified: 11 Aug 2018QC 53956