The man was arrested last Thursday after a month-long investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the ATO-led Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT).
Details of the GST fraud scheme have not been disclosed but the ATO says the man targeted the tax information of Australian companies and diverted $3 million in GST refunds into bank accounts controlled by him.
The AFP has since obtained restraining orders over multiple bank accounts and a luxury vehicle, worth a combined value of approximately $2.73 million, and suspected to be the proceeds of the fraudulent activity.
The man has now been charged in the Sydney Central Local Court with dealing in the proceeds of crime. The maximum penalty for the offence is 12 years’ imprisonment.
ATO deputy commissioner and SFCT chief Will Day said the case demonstrated the ability of the SFCT to deliver a whole-of-government response to target criminal behaviour.
“This case should send a clear message to would-be criminals that we will find them – quickly, decisively and thoroughly – and we will bring them to account for their actions,” Mr Day said.
“We have robust systems in place that stop this sort of crime, and the combined intelligence and force of 10 Government departments and agencies.”
AFP commander Kirsty Schofield said collaboration with government agencies like the ATO allowed it to move quickly to identify and disrupt alleged fraud activities.
“We have a range of tools at our disposal, in this instance we were able to deprive individuals of the proceeds and benefits of their crimes whilst ensuring the funds weren’t able to be dissolved or moved offshore,” she said.
“Fraud is not a victimless crime; it is a crime that impacts directly upon the community.”
Last year, a Melbourne man was sentenced to five years in jail after the ATO and AFP discovered a GST fraud scheme that sought to defraud the Commonwealth of more than $5 million.
Jotham Lian is the 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.