Operation Protego makes a series of coordinated nationwide raids in GST crackdown.
ATO-led taskforce executes 19 warrants for GST fraud
An ATO-led taskforce has executed warrants against 19 individuals suspected of GST fraud in a series of coordinated raids.
The operation, by the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT), involved the AFP and police across the country over 15-17 June.
ATO deputy commissioner and SFCT chief Will Day said that the warrants followed warnings of stronger action against those committing GST fraud.
“You could face severe consequences, including jail if you do not speak to us,” Mr Day said.
“Before we knock on your door, come forward now or face potentially tougher penalties.
“This is a clear warning to individuals considering participating – you will not be successful, you are not anonymous, and you will face the consequences of your attempts.”
Mr Day said the ATO had already stopped more than a billion dollars in attempted fraud.
“For those that have already committed this fraud, we know who you are, and you will need to repay the fake refunds you have obtained,” said Mr Day.
He said that while most Australians abided by the rules the ATO needs to take action to protect the industry.
“Most Australians play by the rules and expect the ATO to take action to protect Australia’s tax and super systems, and collect the revenue necessary to support the Australian community,” said Mr Day.
Operation Protego was supported by the AFP, and each state and territory’s police force.
AFP commander, economic, corporate crime and corruption Christopher Woods said that tax fraud was a matter that the AFP took seriously and it would continue to help the ATO crackdown.
“Every dollar fraudulently obtained represents lost funds that could have been used to benefit everyday Australians in our community,” said Mr Woods.
“The AFP is committed to combatting financial crimes and we will continue to work diligently with our partners in the serious financial crime taskforce to disrupt and dismantle criminals seeking to cheat the tax system.”
This activity follows the arrests of six individuals in Victoria earlier this month in connection to tax fraud.
The ATO said that most GST fraud attempts involved an individual either:
- Inventing a fake business
- Lodging fraudulent Australian business number applications
- Submitting fictitious business activity statements to attempt to gain a false GST refund
Recently a former tax accountant and bank manager was investigated by the ATO and was subsequently sentenced to three years’ jail after attempting to obtain a financial advantage of more than $390,000.
The owner, director and authorised tax representative of a bank franchisee failed to lodge any BAS for two years, with an audit revealing he owed almost $200,000 in taxes and penalties.
The former accountant subsequently lodged 66 false BAS, where he deliberately reduced the pay-as-you-go withholding to nil to eliminate his debt and create a credit of $144,538.
ATO’s investigations showed the revisions he made were entirely fraudulent, which meant the refund was never released.