An accountant faces Perth Magistrates Court this week was charged by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) with one count of conspiracy to obtain a financial advantage—a crime punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
A 56 year old man is alleged to have conspired with others to facilitate tax evasion relating to trusts and involving a total income for the 1999 to 2001 financial years of more than $52 million. The investigation is ongoing and the ACC anticipates further charges to be laid against other participants.
ACC Chief Executive Officer, Mr John Lawler said that this charge is a significant step in fighting complex tax evasion schemes and reflects the strong collaboration of all agencies involved in Project Wickenby.
“Tax evasion using secrecy havens to hide assets and to conceal income is a serious crime that affects all Australians through losses in public funding and services,” Mr Lawler said.
“The ACC is working collaboratively with Project Wickenby partners by providing them with intelligence to inform our response to abusive tax haven arrangements.”
This operation is one of nine investigations being undertaken as part of the ACC’s Wickenby Matters Determination where the ACC is investigating tax avoidance, tax evasion and large-scale money laundering by a number of Australian promoters and participants.
Project Wickenby is a cooperative partnership between the Australian Taxation Office, Australian Federal Police, Australian Crime Commission, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions with support from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) and the Australian Government Solicitor.
As at February 2009, Project Wickenby investigations have resulted in:
• 23 criminal investigations
• 3 convictions
• 40 people charged on indictable offences
• 444 completed tax audits (and a further 472 underway)
• $287.31 million in tax liabilities raised
• $90.81 million in tax collected (as well as $74.76 million in improved compliance by people reviewed under Project Wickenby)
• $75.7 million worth of assets restrained.