In December 2018, the TPB found that former tax agent Vanda Gould ceased to meet the fit and proper person requirements in the law, following on from findings highly critical of him in a decision of the Federal Court of Australia in Hua Wang Bank v Commissioner of Taxation.
In response to Mr Gould’s application to stay the decision, the TPB tended evidence in relation to an ATO investigation named Operation Rubix, which expressed that it was “concerned with the use of multi-layered offshore structures based in the UK, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Samoa and elsewhere by Mr Gould, his associates and clients of his former accounting firm, Gould Ralph, to avoid Australian taxation and to accumulate wealth offshore”.
The AAT referred to the Federal Court decision in Hua Wang which pointed to “sustained, calculated and layered dishonesty”, including describing Mr Gould’s conduct as “disgraceful”.
“The public interest favours refusing a stay in light of the serious implications of the applicant’s conduct, as found by the Federal Court, for the revenue, the integrity of Australian tax laws, the standing of the tax profession within the community, and the ability of the Commissioner of Taxation to discharge his statutory functions,” said AAT deputy president Ian Molloy.
TPB CEO Michael O’Neill welcomed the AAT stay decision, noting that Mr Gould continues to appeal his termination.
“This decision by the AAT reminds tax practitioners of their position of trust in the Australian community,” Mr O’Neill said.
“Where the TPB identifies a serious risk to clients, the public or to revenue, we will act to support the public interest.
“The TPB is taking a firm approach to support honest taxpayers and their advisers by terminating those agents who fail their legal and ethical responsibilities. This year, we have already terminated 70 tax practitioners.”