• ATO targeting the profits of organised crime

    Almost 200 outlaw motor cycle gang members have been targeted for tax evasion as part of a week of action undertaken by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and state and territory police.

    The ATO issued tax notices for service last week to members of Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs (OMCGs) for failing to comply with their tax obligations including the correct lodgment of returns, paying taxes, and correctly reporting income they have earned. To date, almost half the notices have been served, including 11 notices for tax debts totalling nearly $4m. The remaining notices will continue to be served over coming weeks.

    Last week’s operation was Australia-wide.

    It comes as the latest crackdown in National Taskforce – Operation Morpheus, a joint agency taskforce aimed at detection, deterrence and disruption of OMCGs and their members, and is part of the work undertaken by the AFP-led National Anti-Gangs Squad (NAGS) in all state and territories.

    Targeting the financial operations of OMCGs is having positive long-term effects in disrupting organised crime in Australia, returning vital funds to the Commonwealth in the past few years.

    In 2015-16 alone, Operation Morpheus targeted 668 taxpayers and raised tax liabilities of $13.3 million. A total of 193 tax returns were secured with $5.9 million cash collected, 35 people prosecuted for non-lodgment, and a further $55,000 raised in prosecution fines.

    Previous action similar to that carried out last week has also resulted in frozen bank accounts and disrupted cash flows and supply chains, impacting the ability of OMCG members to engage in illegal activity.

    Operation Morpheus Chair Victoria Police Detective Superintendent Peter De Santo said Australian law enforcement and Commonwealth agencies will continue to work together to detect, deter and disrupt the criminal activities of all Australian OMCGs through the taskforce.

    “We will continue to target OMCGs using both traditional and non-traditional law enforcement methods and use our full arsenal of capabilities to exploit every opportunity to target the highest risk OMCGs in each Australian jurisdiction and detect their criminal activity”.

    Under Operation Morpheus, the ATO works closely with other Commonwealth agencies including the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AUSTRAC, Centrelink and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to share data and provide a whole-of-government response to investigating criminal activity.

    “An unprecedented level of available data and data-matching programs has increased our capacity to bring to light illegal activities that might previously have fallen under the radar,” an ATO spokesperson said.

    “We investigate all serious tax-related fraud offences, and share information with our Commonwealth partners. Where the evidence warrants it, we refer cases to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) for prosecution.”

    Recently Minister for Justice Michael Keenan announced a further $39 million funding for the NAGSExternal Link as well as the arrest of the 1000th offender.

    To confidentially report tax evasion and fraud phone 1800 060 062 or use our online form at ato.gov.au/reportevasion

    Last modified: 17 May 2017QC 52123