Appearing in the County Court of Victoria last week, Simon Petzierides was sentenced to three years in jail for tax fraud.
The matter comes as a result of an ATO investigation that found since 2012, the 48-year-old building developer has been involved in claiming more than half a million dollars in fraudulent goods and services tax (GST) refund claims he made in business activity statements (BAS) lodged for two separate companies.
“As the director of Brooklyn Projects 392 Pty Ltd, Mr Petzierides lodged seven BAS statements between 2010 and 2012 where he dishonestly obtained a financial advantage of close to $420,000,” a statement from the ATO explained.
“As the director of Finnsam Pty Ltd, Mr Petzierides also lodged two BAS statements in 2012 in which he fraudulently claimed more than $118,000 in GST refunds.
“The court found these claims to a total of $537,616 to be entirely fraudulent, and a reparation order was made by the court for the full amount.
“Mr Petzierides was also the director of Kenbilt Homes Pty Ltd. This company was used to claim a large amount of input tax credits from demolition and earthworks services claimed to be provided to Brooklyn Projects 392 and Finnsam. Investigations by ATO officers discovered no physical works were performed on site by Kenbilt Homes Pty or any person sub-contracted to perform work on the behalf of Kenbilt Homes.”
ATO assistant commissioner Ian Read welcomed the sentence handed down last week, noting it was “commensurate with the seriousness of Mr Petzierides’ crimes”.
“This wasn’t an honest mistake made by a small business owner trying to do the right thing — it was a calculated and deliberate attempt to commit fraud and steal money from taxpayers,” Mr Read said.
“Investigations by our auditors showed very large GST refunds were being claimed over a period of time and there were a number of methods employed to conceal the fraudulent behaviour including claims for invoices that were never issued, costs for services that were not provided and costs that were inflated through the alteration of legitimate invoices.
“As this case shows, we’re equipped with the resources, sophisticated data matching and analytics capability, and intelligence sharing relationships to detect potential refund fraud and target those who do the wrong thing.”
Mr Read concluded: “We hope this sentence sends a warning to others considering engaging in similar behaviour — if you break the law we will hold you accountable, even if it means pursuing you in the courts.”