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GST fraudster sentenced over multi-million dollar scheme

Last updated 22 November 2020

Mr Michael Ray, a 38-year-old fraud syndicate member who conspired to defraud the Commonwealth of more than $5 million through Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds, has been sentenced to 5 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 3 years after facing the Melbourne County Court today (Monday 23 November, 2020).

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Taxation Office (ATO) joint investigation, known as Operation SPINEL, identified and charged the South Melbourne man, in May 2017, along with two other members of the Victorian-based fraud syndicate.

Mr Ray was charged after police identified he had attempted to obtain a share in over $5 million and did dishonestly obtain a share in more than $2.5 million from the GST fraud scheme which had operated between 12 November 2010 and 14 December 2012.

The scheme was concocted to illegally obtain personal identifying information. This information was then used to create false entities and register them for GST. Business activity statements (BAS) were then lodged to claim false GST refunds, which were directed to bank accounts that had been created using the stolen identities.

In total, the scheme intended to defraud the Commonwealth of more than $5 million.

Police executed search warrants at a number of Melbourne properties and safety deposit boxes, seizing more than $1.5 million in cash.

Mr Ray was sentenced today to 5 years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 3 years, after he pleaded guilty to Conspiracy with the intention of dishonestly obtaining a gain from the Commonwealth, contrary to Section 135.4(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

ATO Assistant Commissioner Ian Read said this is a successful result under the partnership of the ATO and AFP, who work together to investigate serious criminal activities.

“Tax crime affects the whole community by reducing the revenue that is available to fund essential community services. We know the majority of people are honest, but there are a small percentage of people who deliberately abuse the tax and super system for their own financial benefit. Today’s sentencing shows that these people will be held to account.

“$1.5 million has been recovered and those who had their identity compromised were provided support to help get their affairs back on track. This is an excellent result,” Mr Read said.

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