Inter-Agency Phoenix Forum minutes - 5 August 2015


Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC)

100 Market St Sydney

Plus video conference facilities (ASIC Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne)




5 August 2015








Michael Cranston



Contact and Secretariat:

Kay Johnston

Contact Phone:

02 4923 1751


Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

Michael Cranston, PGH, Deputy Commissioner

Will Day, PGH, Assistant Commissioner

Michael Seddon, PGH Phoenix, Director

Kay Johnston, PGH, Phoenix Risk & Intelligence (Secretariat)

Australian Border Force

David Nockels, Commander, Immigration & Customs Enforcement Branch

Australian Federal Police (AFP)

Nicholas McTaggart, AFP, Detective Superintendent, Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce, Serious & Organised Crime

Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC)

Brett Bassett, ASIC, Regional Commissioner QLD, Senior Executive Leader, Small Business Compliance & Deterrence

Joe Zubcic, ASIC, Senior Manager, Small Business Compliance & Deterrence

Department of Employment

Sue Saunders, Branch Manager, Employee Entitlements Branch

Department of the Environment

Matthew Dutkiewicz, Assistant Secretary, Environment Standards Branch

Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO)

Anthony Fogarty, Director, Government & Parliamentary Policy

Aaron Rilstone, Assistant Director, Policy, Media & Communications

Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA)

Vee Moser, Director, Regulatory Support & Coordination

State Revenue Office VIC (SRO VIC)

Christian Birke, Team Leader, Investigations Branch

Office of State Revenue NSW (OSR NSW)

Jim Ormiston, Assistant Director, Operations


Australian Securities & Investment Commission

Adrian Brown, Insolvency Practitioners

Australian Taxation Office

Scott Parkinson, PGH, Assistant Commissioner, Phoenix

Michelle McQuay, PGH, Marketing & Communications

Naomi Robinson, PGH, Operation Enola Project Lead

Maurice Manno, ITX, Disengaged Property Developers

Australian Business Register

Phil Schofield

Australian Federal Police

Erica Merran, Detective Acting Superintendent, Coordinator Fraud & Anti-Corruption Centre, Crime Operations

Steven Fry

Department of Employment

Peter Krizmantis

Department of the Environment

Paul Simonsson, Director, Compliance & Enforcement Branch

Office of State Revenue NSW

Jane Dudley, OSR NSW

Safe Work Australia

Jamie Milton, Assistant Director, Research & Evaluation Team, Policy & Services Branch


Zac Hatzantonis

Jessica Yu


Australian Taxation Office

Cameron Sorensen, Assistant Commissioner, Service Delivery (Debt)

Les Dewind, ITX Disengaged Property Developers

Aris Zafiriou, Service Delivery (Debt)

Australian Business Register

John McAlister, Assistant Registrar

Australian Crime Commission

Richard Grant, National Manager, Target Development

David Ross, Head of Determination, Targeting Criminal Wealth

Clean Energy Regulator

Vincent Borg

Department of the Environment

Tim Francis

Shane Gaddes

Department of Human Services (DHS)

Brenton Halliday, Acting National Manager, Child Support Specialised Assessments & Medicare Public, Child Support Smart Centres

Fair Work Building & Construction

Peter Darlaston, State Director Field Operations (NSW & ACT)

Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO)

Anthony Fogarty, Director, Government & Parliamentary Policy

Agenda Items

Key Messages

Members agreed to focus information sharing and communications strategies in relation the phoenix risk across agencies.

1 Introduction & Welcome

Michael Cranston (ATO – Chair) welcomed all attendees to the meeting.

Michael also introduced Will Day who replaces Bruce Collins as the ATO PGH Phoenix Risk Owner

2 PwC Presentation

  • Zac Hatzantonis & Jessica Yu from PwC provided an update via the attached presentation regarding their current work in progress relating to phoenix
  • PwC are also in the process of reviewing the ATO Phoenix Risk Model and developing an evaluation framework
  • PwC advised that the ATO Phoenix Risk Model allows for proactive and targeted treatment plans and that we are looking at further data matching opportunities
  • Sue Saunders (Employment) advised that she is keen to align the provision of the FEG data to coincide with the ATO population refresh.

Action Item




Arrange provision of FEG data to align with the refresh of the ATO Phoenix population.

Sue Saunders (EMPLOYMENT) & Michael Seddon (ATO)

3 Previous minutes/action items

  • Previous minutes to be distributed.
  • Action items discussed and updated.

4 Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (Will Day)

  • Will briefed the forum on prescription of the Serious Financial Crimes (SFC) Taskforce and how it will deliver on three priorities:-
  • Abusive use of trusts (Trust Taskforce)
  • Abusive use of phoenix (Phoenix Taskforce)
  • International risks
  • Will stated that financial crime is quick moving and relies on the taskforce approach to be effective. Increased cross agency intelligence may lead to the identification of new and emerging financial risks.
  • The SFC Taskforce is housed in the Fraud & Anti-Corruption Centre (FACC) within the AFP.
  • The Inter Agency Phoenix Forum does not change.
  • Brett Bassett (ASIC) stated and all agreed that the phoenix taskforce should be the first port of call for anything phoenix before referral to the SFC.
  • Sue Saunders (Employment) asked for an interactive governance map – Will Day stated that he can provide a mud map to demonstrate how the SFC and Phoenix taskforces interact.

Action Item




Provide a mud map to all interested agencies to demonstrate how the SFC and Phoenix taskforces interact.

Will Day (ATO)

5 Update on Phoenix Taskforce (Michael Seddon)

  • Michael stated that 21 agencies have signed up and taskforce disclosures have started happening.
  • Those agencies wishing to participate who have not yet signed up need to take action now as this needs to be finalised so that we can include them in information sharing activities.
  • Discussions with agencies around the provision of data in relation to their Top 50 worst offenders as far as phoenix activity has commenced.
  • Taskforce is seeking General Counsel advice as to whether we can invite non-government entities into the taskforce eg. Banks, property and construction industry

6 Top 50 Strategy Discussion (Michael Seddon)

  • Each agency shares their worst offenders (from their perspective)
  • ATO collates the data
  • IAPF discusses the most appropriate way forward/most appropriate lead agency for each offender
  • What does phoenix look like in your agency?
  • Possibly utilise ACC Data Fusion Centre

Action Item




Provide a list of your worst offenders to Michael Seddon (ATO) in Excel format with basic identifiers (surname, first name, date of birth, address etc).

Kay Johnston & Michael Seddon (ATO) to contact participating taskforce agencies

All Taskforce Members

7 Operation Cadena Update (David Nockels & Aaron Rilstone)

  • Media focus around labour hire on the 4 corners program particularly relating to 417 visa holders (working holiday maker) not being paid award rates and poor working conditions.
  • Joint agency agreements between Australia Border Protection & Fair Work Ombudsman to allow for a focus on this aspect of the labour hire industry. This work is being led by Australia Border Protection. Mixture of compliance activities and investigation work.
  • Joint operation with AFP in VIC – education institute bringing people in as students (registered training organisation).
  • Fair Work Ombudsman – conducting harvest trail work over the last couple of years – Baiada inquiry – FWO referral to ASIC.
  • Michael Seddon advised that the ATO labour hire strategy for phoenix involved the meat processing industry.

Action Item




Provide a further update to the next meeting of IAPF (18/11/15) regarding the progress of Operation Cadena.

David Nockels & Aaron Rilstone

8 Phoenix Watch List (Phil Schofield – ABR)

  • Phil advised that the Phoenix Watch List (PWL) was a vehicle for facilitating information sharing – facing technical challenges with implementation primarily around getting the data into PWL from external agencies.
  • ATO have contributed their confirmed phoenix population only.
  • ASIC have issues in that if it is their decision that someone is “illegal phoenix” this is a reviewable decision and if another agency utilises that information to take action then this may create problems for ASIC – therefore, they will not contribute on that basis.
  • An individual can lodge a FOI request as to the reason that they are on the PWL – the FOI request will go back to the contributing agency to address.
  • Helen Anderson (Melbourne University) has suggested a possible solution being the removal of the name “phoenix” from the title.
  • Phil suggested an out of session phone hook-up exploring some of these issues with a view to getting it right.

Action Item




Organise an out of session phone hook-up to explore the issues around PWL with a view to getting it right

Michael Seddon (ATO)

9 Communications Update (Michelle McQuay – ATO)

Michelle McQuay presented an update to the taskforce on the various communications activities that have taken place and their results.

For a copy of this presentation, please contact the Secretariat.

10 ATO Phoenix Population Update (Michael Seddon – ATO)

Michael Seddon provided a population update to the taskforce that included:

  • Demographic breakdown
  • Industry demographic breakdown
  • Confirmed and candidate phoenix groups
  • Market segment breakdown of phoenix groups

11 Operation Enola Update (Naomi Robinson – ATO)

Michael Cranston (ATO) commenced by stating that the feedback with regard to the unannounced visits conducted on the lawyers/accountants/liquidators and migration agents premises was an extremely positive community confidence message. Comments such as “about time” and Michael has received hundreds of emails and telephone calls in relation to this activity.

Naomi started by stating that the goal of Operation Enola is to counteract the mischief in relation to the behaviours of the promoters and participants.

There are core tax agents and liquidators suspected of orchestrating the activities.

On 3rd & 4th June approximately 100 ATO staff along with AFP and NSW Police attended 12 sites without notice in the Sydney area – this activity was publicised through a media release at the completion of the activity.

Tax Practitioners Board and ASIC have been contacted with regard to further action.

The project team is reviewing the evidence and LPP claims are being worked through.

12 Other Business

Sue Saunders provided an overview of the FEG recovery program. This involves liquidator funding in an effort to improve the recovery of assets to improve the payment of employee entitlements.

Approximately $250m per annum is paid out with approx. 11-12% recovered.

13 Wrap up and close

The details of the next meeting are tabled below.


Wednesday, 18 November 2015


10.00am - 01.00pm



747 Collins St, Melbourne

    Last modified: 15 Mar 2016QC 48330