Wickenby gathers momentum

Wickenby, the multi-agency taskforce that investigates offshore secrecy havens, has raised over $850 million in tax liabilities, 57 people have been charged with serious offences, more than 1,400 audits and reviews have been completed, nearly 600 audits are currently in progress and 24 criminal investigations underway. Wickenby isn't going away any time soon, and will continue to tackle schemes that threaten the integrity of the tax system.

Wickenby's success can be seen in recent convictions and significant jail terms. The deterrent effect of Project Wickenby is proving to be significant. For example, AUSTRAC analysis shows a 20-30% reduction in the flow of funds from Australia to Vanuatu, Switzerland and Liechtenstein - countries where the project has had a focus. This compares with a 5% reduction in relation to other secrecy countries.

Two Sydney carpenters and property developers, who evaded more than $800,000 in taxes, were sentenced to three years jail with a minimum 18 months to serve.

Two Gold Coast businessmen were each sentenced to six and a half years jail for conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth of more than $2 million. Both will serve a minimum three years and nine months.

A Sydney lawyer was sentenced to two years imprisonment after being found guilty of tax fraud for helping a client move money offshore to avoid paying $194,000 in tax.

A Perth accountant was sentenced to three years and three months with a minimum 13 months to serve, for his involvement in illegally conspiring with others to evade paying between $25.78 million and $27.68 million in tax.

The firm approach taken by the courts is best summed up by recent judicial sentencing remarks:

"[It's] of the first importance that others similarly placed appreciate that the consequences of involving themselves in these sorts of deceptive manoeuvres will be severe."

One of the most important factors when sentencing is "the need to impose a sentence which will deter others from similar conduct."

Is Wickenby watching? You bet it is. If you think you may have become involved in an illegal scheme or have unreported income, act now, before we do.

Read more information about Project Wickenby.

In an effort to deter people from entering into offshore tax evasion schemes, Wickenby partner agencies recently funded a small targeted advertising campaign. The advertising carried messages about the benefits of making a voluntary disclosure and the significant repercussions of being caught.

    Last modified: 04 Aug 2010QC 28250