Government expands serious financial crime focus
Building on the success of Project Wickenby is the new Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, announced by the Government in May.
The Government will provide $127.6 million over four years to detect criminal activity and prosecute facilitators of serious financial crime.
'This type of crime poses a genuine threat to national security and to the integrity of Australia's economy, financial markets, regulatory frameworks and tax revenue collection,' Treasurer Joe Hockey said in a statement.
The initial intelligence priorities of the taskforce will focus on superannuation and investment fraud, identity crime and professional facilitators. The initial operational priorities will focus on phoenix fraud, trust fraud and international tax evasion fraud.
ATO Commissioner Chris Jordan acknowledged the role of Project Wickenby as the springboard for this new taskforce.
'Project Wickenby has provided significant benefits to the Australian community and we will continue to build on the learnings and success and demonstrate that tax crime will not be tolerated.
The use of professional facilitators, opaque arrangements and trust structures all provide criminals with a layer of insulation from detection and prosecution. We will continue to bring together the resources, knowledge and experiences of the Wickenby agencies to uncover and address this complex problem,' the ATO Commissioner said.
The Serious Financial Crime Taskforce is part of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) led Fraud and Anti-corruption Centre and includes the AFP, ATO, Australian Crime Commission (ACC), Attorney-General's Department (AGD), AUSTRAC, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) and Australian Customs and Border Protection Services.
Coordinated efforts strengthen the fight against tax crime
The Serious Financial Crime Taskforce joins other national taskforces already underway to tackle crimes that threaten Australia’s economy.
The ATO is currently leading two inter-agency taskforces to combat expanding threats from phoenix businesses and the misuse of trust structures. The new Serious Financial Crime Taskforce will work with these taskforces to address criminal activity. These taskforces enable intelligence and information sharing between partner agencies and pave the way for easier identification, management and monitoring of suspected fraudulent behaviour.
With the combined powers these taskforces bring, the fight against tax crime has gained new strength.
For more information, read the ATO’s media release.