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Operation Elbrus: Sydney man jailed for tax fraud

Last updated 5 May 2023

This is a joint media release between the
Australian Federal Police and the Australian Taxation Office.

A Sydney man is the second person this week sentenced to jail by the Supreme Court of NSW for his involvement in a syndicate that committed a $105 million tax fraud over a three-year period.

Patrick Willmott, 36, was sentenced to nine years’ jail yesterday (5 May 2023), with a non-parole period of six years’ imprisonment. He was convicted on two charges in the Supreme Court of NSW on 21 March 2023:

  • conspiracy to dishonestly cause a loss to the Commonwealth, contrary to section 135.4(3) of the Criminal Code (Cth); and
  • conspiracy to deal with money of a value of $1,000,000 or more believing it to be the proceeds of crime, contrary to sections 11.5(1) and 400.3(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

The syndicate responsible for this large-scale and organised tax fraud conspiracy was dismantled as part of Operation Elbrus – an investigation led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), with significant assistance from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as part of the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT).

Operation Elbrus exposed a large-scale and organised tax fraud and money laundering conspiracy, which used Plutus Payroll Australia Pty Ltd and other payroll service entities to divert amounts of money payable to the ATO as pay as you go (PAYG) withholding tax and goods and services tax (GST) for the conspirators’ benefit.

Mr Willmott jointly exercised day to day control over second-tier companies and their bank accounts used by the syndicate to withhold money and underpay a portion of the PAYG withholding and GST owed to the ATO. His role included processing payments for the second tier companies, at the direction of other conspirators.

AFP Detective Superintendent Kristie Cressy said this is one of many sentencing outcomes as part of Operation Elbrus that has resulted in years of imprisonment.

“The AFP is working with the ATO to actively identify and pursue anyone who actively participates in schemes to defraud the government and live an extravagant lifestyle at the expense of hard working Australians,” she said.

“The theft and laundering of money that could be used to better the lives of others in our community will not be tolerated. You will be identified and held accountable for your actions.”

Acting ATO Deputy Commissioner and Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) Chief John Ford said that the court had sent a clear signal that the community would not tolerate tax cheats.

“The sentences are a major milestone and show the commitment of the SFCT in bringing financial criminals to account.”

“It doesn’t matter how sophisticated the criminals think their scheme is, our officers will detect, investigate and prosecute the most elaborate schemes and bringing the perpetrators to account.”

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