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Former ATO staffer charged for accepting $150k bribe

Tax

A taxpayer allegedly paid the Tax Office employee to reduce $6 million in personal and business debts. 

By Josh Needs3 minute read

A former ATO employee has been charged for accepting a $150,000 bribe to reduce a taxpayer’s personal and business debts of more than $6 million. 

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The two faced Parramatta Local Court with the former ATO staffer charged with receiving a corrupting benefit as a Commonwealth public official, and unauthorised access to computer data under the Criminal Code Act 1995.

The civilian associate was charged with providing a corrupting benefit to a Commonwealth public official and bribery of a Commonwealth public official under the Criminal Code.

The maximum penalty for these offences is 10 years’ imprisonment.

The corruption charges stemmed from Operation Barker, a joint agency investigation led by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI).

Operation Barker executed search warrants at several residential and business premises across Sydney and its suburbs in early June.

The integrity commissioner and head of ACLEI, Jaala Hinchcliffe, said the operation had displayed the power of collaboration with the ATO, AFP, NSW Police Force and Department of Home Affairs, as well as assistance from ASIC and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.

“Operation Barker is a strong example of joint-agency collaboration and commitment to preventing and investigating corruption issues,” said Ms Hinchcliffe.

“The investigation has resulted in the first arrest of an ATO employee for corruption related offences since the ATO came within ACLEI’s jurisdiction.”

The conduct of ATO staff members became a part of ACLEI’s jurisdiction when it was expanded from 1 January 2021. 

It is alleged the arrested former ATO staffer had accepted the $150,000 bribe to reduce personal and business debts adding up to more than $6 million of a taxpayer the office was auditing.

The ATO’s Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, said that the ATO had commenced a thorough internal investigation under Operation Barker to ensure taxpayer affairs were uncompromised by criminal activity.

“The ATO has robust frameworks, policies and procedures in place to support a culture of professionalism and high ethical standards,” said Mr Jordan.

“These structures are in place because the community rightly expects the highest levels of integrity from the ATO.”

Operation Barker was launched in September 2021 and is ongoing.

The ACLEI supports the integrity commissioner to provide independent assurance to the government about the integrity of prescribed law enforcement agencies and their staff members.

Former ATO staffer charged for accepting $150k bribe
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Josh Needs

Josh Needs

AUTHOR

Josh Needs is a journalist at Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, which are the leading sources of news, strategy, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Josh studied journalism at the University of NSW and previously wrote news, feature articles and video reviews for Unsealed 4x4, a specialist offroad motoring website. Since joining the Momentum Media Team in 2022, Josh has written for Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser.

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

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