The Perth District Court has sentenced Shane Read to four years’ jail for tax fraud after being convicted of obtaining and attempting to obtain over $250,000 in total from his clients and the ATO.
Read, an employee of Perth firm Finkelstein Hickmott, was found to have lodged 21 of his client’s income tax returns without their authorisation and accessed four of his client’s Activity Statements credit account balances between May 2016 and July 2017.
This resulted in the wrongful payment of tax refunds into Read’s own bank account.
After a pre-issue audit by the ATO of an unauthorised BAS lodgment which contained false information in a further attempt to obtain funds from the ATO, it was discovered Read obtained a financial advantage committing fraud in the name of unwitting clients.
Read was found to have altered the bank account details of his clients to divert ATO refunds to his personal bank account details without his client’s knowledge.
ATO Assistant Commissioner Tim Roach welcomed the sentence and said it reflected the serious nature of Read’s crimes.
“Tax and BAS agents, accountants and other trusted advisors have a critical role as intermediaries, conduits and influencers of behaviour in the tax and superannuation system,” said Mr Roach.
“The ATO has a strong commitment to protecting honest taxpayers by identifying and prosecuting any tax agents who abuse their position of trust by either conspiring with or against their clients to defraud the tax system.
“We welcome this sentence handed down today and we will continue to work with tax professionals to ensure the integrity of the system and to protect honest tax professionals and the community from these types of crimes.”