Joint AFP and ATO action over tax scams serve up leads to other crimes, deputy commissioner says.
Bikie gang members charged over alleged GST fraud
Two Hells Angels gang members have been arrested in Sydney and charged in connection with GST fraud as part of a nationwide crackdown on illegal bikie activities.
The two, a 35-year-old Sydney Hells Angels chapter president in Parramatta and an associate in Liverpool, have both been charged with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth among other offences.
The 2 August arrests were part of an Operation Protego joint action by the AFP and ATO against GST fraud and follow the arrest in March of another Hells Angels gang member in Westmead.
Police discovered evidence that the man, an alleged secretary and treasurer of the Hells Angels Chinatown Charter, was involved in a conspiracy with the other two.
The Westmead man was charged with conspiracy to defraud and dealing with the proceeds of crime and is scheduled to appear in Parramatta Local Court on 25 August.
The alleged chapter leader appeared before Parramatta Local Court on 3 August and as well as conspiracy to defraud also faced multiple charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception while the Liverpool man was also charged with unauthorised possession of a firearm.
Both are due to appear at Parramatta Local Court on 29 September.
The arrests were part of a nationwide crackdown by Taskforce Morpheus on illegal bikie gang activities that led to 159 arrests across the country and police seizure of more than $200,000 in cash, 43 firearms, 22 weapons, 11 vehicles and various prohibited drugs.
ATO deputy commissioner John Ford said GST fraud helps fund criminal activity and Operation Protego is leading to arrests for other crimes.
“The fraud involves offenders inventing fake businesses and ABN applications, then submitting fictitious Business Activity Statements in an attempt to gain a false GST refund,” Mr Ford said.
“GST fraud is a serious offence. Criminals use the profits they receive to fund further illegal activities.
“What we’re finding is that our investigations and intelligence into Operation Protego are helping to open doors that enable enforcement agencies to act on broader crimes,” he said.
“The outcomes of these activities demonstrate the strength of our partnerships with law enforcement agencies. We know who has committed the fraud, and we’re only one step away from knocking on the next door.”
AFP Crime Command Detective Superintendent and National Taskforce Morpheus chair Anthony Conway said motorcycle gangs are the largest serious crime cohort in the country.
“Outlaw motorcycle gangs remain an ever-present threat to the Australian community,” he said. “They are violent, seek illicit wealth and power at any cost, and have zero respect for the law – they consider themselves above it.”
“The success of this week-of-action should serve as a fresh warning to outlaw motorcycle gang members in Australia and those seeking to hideout offshore. We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to protect Australians by causing maximum damage to your criminal operations.”
National Taskforce Morpheus is a joint enforcement initiative between the AFP and partners that include the ATO, AUSTRAC and the ABF as well as state police forces.