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62-year-old man charged over $845,000 ATO investigation

Jessica Yun
·2-min read
(AUSTRALIA OUT) Exterior of the Australian Taxation Office in Waymouth Street, Adelaide, South Australia, 22 March 2007. THE AGE Picture by DAVID MARIUZ (Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images/Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images)
A long investigation has resulted in a 62-year-old man being charged over illegal phoenixing activities. (Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images/Fairfax Media)

An investigation led by the Australian Taxation Office has resulted in a 62-year-old man charged over illegal ‘phoenix’ activity that saw the Commonwealth cop losses of $845,066.

‘Phoenixing’ refers to the deliberate act of building up debts in a business and stealing profits before winding up the company and starting up a new one under a different name.

A long investigation, jointly led by the ATO and AFP, resulted in the man being charged with nine offences of dishonesty as well as four offences for obstructing Commonwealth officials when he allegedly prevented ATO officers from conducting their duties during a visit.

The investigation alleges that the 62-year-old barred employees’ PAYG income tax from being paid to the ATO and also that the man took control of businesses in financial difficulties, issued payment summaries to workers through these businesses and appointed straw directors to the business to cover up his involvement.

The activities of ‘phoenix’ operators can be simply described as stealing money and avoiding debt by not paying wages, super, and other entitlements to employees, suppliers and subcontractors.

“The alleged behaviour in this case demonstrates a calculated and callous disregard for the law, by someone who took advantage of his clients for his own benefit,” said ATO deputy commissioner and Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) chief Will Day.

“The community won’t tolerate this behaviour, and neither will the SFCT.”

The taskforce is led by the ATO and comprised of 38 members from the ATO, AFP, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Attorney-General’s Department, financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC, corporate watchdog ASIC, Department of Home Affairs, including Australian Border Force (ABF), Services Australia and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP).

“The collaboration between the two taskforces, and the combined power of so many government departments should send a strong message to financial criminals that their time is up,” Day added.

If you're concerned about someone involved in tax fraud or tax evasion, you can submit anonymous tip-offs to the ATO through ato.gov.au/tipoff.

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