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Diving in too deep: Swimming teacher jailed for GST fraud

Last updated 2 May 2022

A former swimming teacher has recently been sentenced in the Brisbane District Court to 3 years’ jail after dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception. Ms Sasha Cordes provided false information to receive GST refunds of $97,114 to which she was not entitled.

Ms Cordes also attempted to obtain a financial advantage by deception, seeking GST refunds of $181,947. In both cases, Ms Cordes lodged numerous quarterly Business Activity Statement (BAS) revisions for ‘Sasha’s Swim School’ in which she overstated purchases to obtain a GST input tax credit.

On 28 April 2022, Ms Cordes was convicted on 43 charges in total, and sentenced to 3 years’ jail, however, will be released from jail after 15 months, upon entering into a $1,000 recognisance to be of good behaviour for 2 years. She will also need to repay the $97,114 she dishonestly obtained.

On 8 December 2015, the ATO commenced an audit of Ms Cordes’ BAS for 10 of the quarters between the June 2012 and September 2015 inclusive.

The ATO tried using various communication channels to notify Ms Cordes of the audit being undertaken. Ms Cordes did not respond to requests for information to substantiate the GST input tax credits claimed.

On 7 January 2016, the ATO disallowed all claims, reducing the input tax credits to zero. Rather than formally objecting to the ATO decision to amend the BAS, Ms Cordes submitted eight revised BAS to override the ATO’s amendments, and a new one for the latest quarter, in June 2016.

Refunds for all nine BAS were withheld pending audit. During the audit, the ATO found that the purchases and GST input tax credits claimed in the BAS submitted were false, and Ms Cordes was subsequently prosecuted.

Acting Assistant Commissioner David Mendoza said the outcome demonstrates the ATO’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of the tax system.

“When people claim a refund they’re not entitled to, they’re stealing from the community and disadvantaging everyone who does the right thing,” Mr Mendoza said.

“We have sophisticated systems to detect fraud, and wrongdoers can expect to face serious penalties, including jail time.”

You can report tax evasion to the ATO by completing the tip-off form, or by phoning 1800 060 082.

This matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.