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  • Tax cheats brought to justice

    Two men have been convicted of serious tax offences following successful investigations under the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT).

    A 61 year old former financial advisor was on Friday convicted in the Sydney District Court for tax fraud offences totalling over $700,000. Jeffrey Conklin was sentenced to five years and nine months imprisonment with a non-parole period of two and a half years.

    Mr Conklin used a scheme involving various off-shore entities and trusts to hide his income and then attempted to conceal the return of this income to Australia. He subsequently left Australia and was arrested at the border when attempting to re-enter the country in June 2014.

    ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston said the conviction demonstrates the value of cross-agency investigations in detecting and dealing with offenders.

    “We use every resource available by working closely with partner agencies to identify and prosecute these criminals. Those who commit tax fraud are stealing from the entire community and will be brought to account for their actions,” Mr Cranston said.

    This verdict follows a second successful tax crime prosecution on 29 April 2016, when Timothy Charles Pratten was convicted and sentenced in the NSW Supreme Court to five years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of two years, for failing to declare income in his income tax returns for the financial years ending 30 June 2003 to 2009.

    The 55 year old former insurance company director used a web of offshore entities in Vanuatu, including trusts and companies, to conceal approximately $4.552 million in income from the ATO, resulting in a tax shortfall of approximately $2.055 million. Mr Pratten used these funds to support a lavish lifestyle, buying multiple properties, a helicopter and luxury boat.

    The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) last week lodged an appeal with the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal in the matter of Mr Pratten as it is of the view that the sentence imposed was manifestly inadequate for the crimes he committed.

    CDPP Deputy Director Shane Kirne said abuse of the tax system through intentional and dishonest behaviour is a very serious offence, that warrants the imposition of strong penalties.

    “These offenders both used calculated and deliberate tactics to attempt to evade their tax obligations,” Mr Kirne said.

    The two guilty convictions are successful results under the SFCT, established 1 July 2015, which focuses on serious international tax evasion as well as other criminal activities related to phoenix businesses and abusive use of trusts.

    “By sharing intelligence under the Taskforce we can build a detailed understanding of the criminal activity and ensure offenders face the full force of the law,” Mr Cranston said.

    Agencies forming the SFCT include the Australian Federal Police, Australian Taxation Office, Australian Crime Commission, Attorney-General’s Department, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution and Australian Border Force.

    Last modified: 14 Jun 2016QC 49343