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Phoney tax agent jailed after 14 years on the run

Tax

A Victorian man who pretended to be a tax agent has now been sentenced to five months in jail after pocketing over $40,000 in fraudulent tax refunds.

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Sentenced in the Parramatta Local Court last month, Ibrahim El-Hassan had posed to be a tax agent and lodged multiple false income tax returns on behalf of unsuspecting clients, obtaining refunds totalling $43,205.

The crime was discovered 14 years ago after a bank employee noticed an account had received two ATO refunds of more than $10,000 on the same day in different names.

An investigation soon revealed that Mr El-Hassan had lodged five false income tax returns on behalf of clients who believed him to be a registered tax agent, submitting false claims for motor-vehicle expenses, which generated greater refunds.

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He also attempted to obtain a further $18,682, but this was stopped by the ATO.

Victoria police and ATO officers executed a search warrant at Mr El-Hassan’s home in December 2006 but he managed to flee the country six days later.

However, Mr El-Hassan was eventually arrested by the Australian Federal Police when he returned to Australia in August 2020 and was charged with obtaining and attempting to obtain a financial advantage by deception.

Mr El-Hassan has also been ordered to pay the full $43,205.

ATO assistant commissioner Adam Kendrick has urged the public to be wary of unregistered preparers who often use a taxpayer’s personal login details to access their ATO Online account through myGov to lodge tax returns.

“Your tax agent has access to your personal identifying information like your Tax File Number. Giving information like this to an untrustworthy person can end badly, but you can protect yourself by checking that your tax agent is registered and never sharing your myGov login details and passwords or access to your myGov account with anyone, including your tax agent,” said Mr Kendrick.

Mr Kendrick said the sentencing was a sign of the ATO and Tax Practitioners Board’s commitment against unregistered tax agents.

“[The] outcome shows that just because you’ve left the country, doesn’t mean your problems will go away. We will make sure to secure an outcome for the benefit of honest taxpayers and tax professionals,” he said.

“Tax agents play a vital role in contributing to and protecting the integrity of the Australian tax and super systems.

“Our focus is on supporting those that are doing the right thing, by taking a firm stance against those damaging not only the integrity of the tax system, but the tax profession itself.”

Mr El-Hassan’s sentencing comes after 72-year-old Kent Scott Hacker was recently sentenced to seven and a half months in jail and fined $640,000 for repeatedly providing tax and BAS agent services despite being unregistered with the TPB.

Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian

AUTHOR

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.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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