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Tide turning on tax haven abuse


Hidden funds from tax cheats using offshore tax havens are at a five-year low, according to the minister for justice, Michael Keenan.

By Michael Masterman 10 minute read

International funds flow figures from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) show less money was sent from Australia to overseas tax havens in 2012/2013 than any year since 2007/2008.

Mr Keenan said the AUSTRAC data highlights the effectiveness of Project Wickenby in exposing the abuse of overseas tax and secrecy jurisdictions.

Project Wickenby is a cross-agency taskforce established to fight tax evasion, avoidance and crime, which has so far raised more than $1.8 billion in tax liabilities. It has also led to substantial sentences for those promoting abusive arrangements involving tax havens.


Since 2007, AUSTRAC has been providing financial intelligence to the ATO and other Project Wickenby agencies to identify people promoting or participating in tax havens.

Participants in Project Wickenby include the ATO, AUSTRAC, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission.

"These agencies are constantly improving their information technology systems and growing their overseas intelligence exchange networks to combat serious criminal activity," said Mr Keenan.

The minister also highlighted the government’s commitment to fighting tax haven abuse.

"The Coalition government is serious about strengthening the integrity of Australia’s financial system, detecting and disrupting criminal activity and protecting our communities," he said.

"Increasingly, there are fewer places for criminal tax cheats to hide and profit from these illegal activities," Mr Keena added. 

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