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Truck boss jailed over $3.8m fuel tax rebate fraud

Tax

A South Australian man will spend at least 14 years in jail after being found guilty of fraudulently claiming $3.8 million in fuel rebates.

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The offences trace back to 2002 when Reginald Roberts started to use false identities to lodge 75 fraudulent claims for more than 20 million litres of fuel over five years.

Mr Roberts, who already operated trucking businesses in South Australia, was found to have created three bogus companies — Double R Logistics, Inter Link Freight Services, and Phillip Williams Pty Ltd — to rort millions of dollars from the Commonwealth.

An ATO investigation found that there was no evidence that the fuel was ever purchased or used under the Diesel and Alternative Fuels Grants Scheme and the Energy Grants Credit Scheme, which were designed to allow heavy road transport businesses to claim back 18.51 cents per litre of fuel used.

The Tax Office also found that no trucks were registered to the fraudulent businesses at the time, and searches at Mr Roberts’ home and business found no business records.

For obtaining a financial advantage by deception, Mr Roberts was sentenced in the District Court of South Australia to 10 years in jail, in addition to another 10-and-a-half-year imprisonment sentence for an existing drug offence as an associate of the South Australian Hells Angels bike gang.

The total jailtime for the combined offences is 20 years and six months with a non-parole period of 14 years.

ATO assistant commissioner Ian Read said the sentence was a testament to the ATO’s resolve in pursuing tax fraud, regardless of its age or complexity.

“Our investigation of large quantities of irrelevant documentation provided by Mr Roberts was described as a ‘Herculean’ task by his Honour Judge Stretton. This matter demonstrates we have the resources to actively uncover those trying to cheat the tax system,” Mr Read said.

“This outcome demonstrates the ATO’s commitment to detecting and prosecuting tax crimes, no matter how long it has been.

“We have a duty to the community to protect the integrity of the tax and super systems, and we have no tolerance for blatant fraud like we have seen in this case.

“Mr Roberts obtained an unfair advantage over Australians who are doing the right thing, robbing the Australian economy of millions that could have been spent on essential services. Tax crime is not victimless.”

According to the ATO, there are approximately 256,000 businesses currently registered for fuel tax credits — the successor to the Diesel and Alternative Fuel Grants Scheme and the Energy Grants Credit Scheme.

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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.

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