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7 YEARS JAIL: Brisbane man tried to steal $1.2 million via wife's deli

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A Queensland man has been sentenced to prison for seven years after attempting to fraudulently obtain more than $1.2 million from the Australian Taxation Office.

The Brisbane District Court heard that Stephen Mungomery lodged business activity statements to the ATO on behalf of his wife’s business Gourmet Providores Pty Ltd for more than 3 years from 2009 to 2012.

In each of the 46 lodgments, the 51-year-old claimed the deli had expenses paid out to his own one-man business Epicure Consulting and Training Solutions – to the tune of more than $13.7 million.

Even though these expenses made up for 92 percent of the deli’s budget, an ATO investigation found the invoices were fabricated and never paid.

This was all done to try to grab $1,253,511 in GST refunds, in an effort ATO assistant commissioner Peter Vujanic labelled “brazen fraud”.

“This wasn’t an honest mistake by a small business owner trying to do the right thing – it was a calculated and deliberate attempt to commit fraud and steal money from taxpayers,” he said.

“This kind of illegal behaviour takes away potential tax dollars from the Australian community which could otherwise go to essential services such as roads, schools and hospitals.”

The fraudulent invoices included $5 million for “website development” and more than $2.6 million for “franchise development”.

“The ATO’s investigators discovered that the initial website developed for Gourmet Providores Pty Ltd was actually created by a different company at a cost of $7,885. Mr Mungomery’s franchise development claims were also found to be fraudulent,” stated the tax office.

Vujanic welcomed the jail sentence for Mungomery.

“If you’re caught breaking the law we will hold you accountable, even if it means pursuing you in the criminal judicial system,” he said.

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