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Serious Financial Crime Taskforce

The ATO-led Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) tackles the most serious forms of financial crime.

Last updated 12 October 2023

About the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce

The Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) is an ATO-led joint-agency taskforce established on 1 July 2015. It brings together the knowledge, resources and experience of relevant law enforcement and regulatory agencies to identify and address the most serious and complex forms of financial crime.

Serious financial crime

Each year, serious financial crime costs the Australian community millions of dollars in lost revenue. With the support of partner agencies, we are committed to preventing, detecting and dealing with this kind of criminal activity through the SFCT.

Rapidly evolving technology has provided a platform for criminals to become more active, finding new ways to target vulnerable people. The SFCT does not take this lightly and will investigate the most serious offenders of these crimes. They will be brought to account.

The current focus of the SFCT is on:

  • cybercrime (technology enabled crime) affecting the tax and superannuation systems
  • offshore tax evasion
  • illegal phoenix activity
  • serious financial crime affecting the ATO-administered measures of the Commonwealth Coronavirus Economic Response Package.

The SFCT includes:

  • Australian Tax Office (ATO)
  • Australian Federal Police (AFP)
  • Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC)
  • Attorney-General's Department (AGD)
  • Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)
  • Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
  • Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP)
  • Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs), incorporating its operational arm, the Australian Border Force (ABF)
  • Services Australia.

In December 2018, the Government provided $182 million to the ATO over 4 years from 2019–20 to extend the SFCT. This funding will continue to leverage the capabilities and powers of Commonwealth law enforcement and regulatory agencies. It will also enable the SFCT to keep sharing our collective knowledge, resources and experience to target the most serious and complex forms of financial crime that present the highest risk to Australia's tax and superannuation systems.

The extension of SFCT also supports Australia’s involvement as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5). This allows us to work together globally with leaders of tax enforcement authorities from Canada, UK, USA and the Netherlands to further disrupt international tax crime and money laundering.

As a member of the SFCT, we are equipped with the resources, data-matching capability and international and domestic intelligence-sharing relationships to uncover even the most intricately-planned serious financial crimes.

Serious Financial Crime Taskforce – making a difference

Watch our video to learn more about the difference the SFCT is making to serious financial crime.

Serious Financial Crime Taskforce results

The Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) started operation on 1 July 2015.

From this date until 30 September 2023, the Taskforce has progressed cases that have resulted in:

  • completion of 1,906 audits and reviews
  • conviction and sentencing of 30 people
  • raised liabilities of over $1.868 billion
  • collected $739 million.

Make a tip-off

The SFCT is committed to tackling illegal activity and behaviour of concern, especially when it comes to:

  • COVID-19 stimulus measures
  • phoenix
  • offshore tax evasion
  • cybercrime against the tax and superannuation systems.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know is doing the wrong thing, you can confidentially tell us about it.

To report any known or suspected illegal behaviour you can either:

  • complete the tip-off form
  • phone us on the ATO Tip-off hotline on 1800 060 062.

Serious Financial Crime Identikit

Serious Financial Crime Identikit. Hand with puppet strings attached.

You can help us stop serious financial criminals by being aware how they operate.

We've developed the Serious Financial Crime Identikit to help Australians better understand:

  • how serious financial crime affects the community
  • the kinds of criminals involved
  • the warning signs to look out for.

The kit features a series of personas that describe the different roles played by criminals involved in serious financial crime, how they can be spotted and what to do if you see something suspicious.

It also includes a checklist of the main warning signs, plus tips for protecting yourself from cybercrime.

Download and share the Serious Financial Crime Identikit

You can download the Serious Financial Crime Identikit and fact sheets. Share this information with your network to encourage others to keep an eye out for suspicious activity:

Fact sheets

Podcast

Our podcast discussion about serious financial crime features:

  • Will Day (ATO Deputy Commissioner and SFCT Chief)
  • Dr Rick Brown (Deputy Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology), and
  • host Emily Webb (Crime author and co-host of the Australian True Crime Podcast).

Listen to the Tax inVoice podcast: Lying, cheating thievesExternal Link.

Keep up to date

ESST Intelligence Bulletin

The SFCT has released a new Intelligence Bulletin warning businesses against using electronic sales suppression tools (ESSTs). ESSTs are used by businesses to illegally manipulate transaction records and avoid their tax obligations.

Since 2018, it has been illegal to produce, supply, possess, use or promote ESSTs in Australia.

If you have an ESST attached to your point-of-sale system, we encourage you to make a voluntary disclosure.

Read the bulletin in the following languages:

Fraud in the precious metals refining industry

The illegal manipulation of the government’s interpretation of precious metals has been a focus for the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT), which has investigated participants alleged to have been involved in gold bullion fraud.

Latest media releases

Past media releases

Read our past SFCT media releases and listen to the audio grabs.

Case studies

Case studies reinforce that those who deliberately cheat the system will be held to account. You can read our case studies below:

Taskforce agencies

Find out more about some of our SFCT partner agencies:

Past media releases and audio grabs released by the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT).

Learn court outcomes of Operation Elbrus, a joint ATO-led Serious Financial Crime Taskforce investigation.

Why fraud in the precious metals industry is a focus for the ATO.

How the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) is warning against electronic sales suppression tools (ESSTs).

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