Following six years of litigation, former tax agent Rudy Frugtniet has failed to overturn the Tax Practitioners Board’s termination of his registration after the Full Federal Court dismissed his appeal.
Mr Frugtniet had been registered as a tax agent by the Tax Agents’ Board of Victoria since 2008 until the board’s decision to terminate his registration in March 2013 on the basis that he had ceased to meet the requirement that he was a fit and proper person.
He was also prevented from applying for registration for five years as a result of the termination.
This decision was based on Mr Frugtniet’s lengthy history of misconduct, having been disqualified from legal practice, making false statements to a court and client, and failing to disclose such matters when he applied for registration as a tax agent.
In particular, the Full Court repeated a passage quoted by the tribunal that Mr Frugtniet “carries with him a massive bag of dishonest conduct. It is a pattern of conduct committed over an extensive period.”
His conduct as a tax agent in dealing with a client in 2011 was also picked apart, with the court noting how he administered the taxpayer’s tax affairs without their consent on a number of occasions, misrepresenting that he was operating a trust account and that funds would be held in that account, and refusing to provide the taxpayer with a copy of their tax return or amended return.
Mr Frugtniet has pursued legal action against the TPB since 2013, with two Administrative Appeal Tribunal (AAT) reviews and three Federal Court appeals which finally culminated in this Full Federal Court decision.
TPB chair Ian Klug said the Full Federal Court’s decision was a welcomed outcome given Mr Frugtniet’s dishonest conduct.
“Millions of Australians are clients of tax practitioners, and we are working to support the public by regulating practitioners to ensure they are providing services competently, and with honesty and integrity,” Mr Klug said.
“We are aiming to level the playing field for honest and ethical tax practitioners, and want to see Australians benefit from better public services, a stronger economy and a better business environment.”
Further, Mr Klug said the TPB celebrates the Federal Court’s decision to dismiss Mr Frugtniet’s appeal and award the TPB costs.
“We recognise that litigation is an expensive and lengthy process; however, the TPB is committed to taking appropriate action to ensure just outcomes and to deter poor conduct,” he said.
“In addition to law clarification, our litigation program supports these objectives.”
Jotham Lian is the news editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.