High-profile accountant and property owner, David Brandi, has been sentenced to two years’ jail after being found cheating the tax office out of more than $135,248 and pocketing the funds for himself.
Brandi, who owns several properties from The Block and formerly owned a Brisbane nightclub, was hauled to Melbourne County Court on Friday over tax fraud he committed more than a decade ago.
The Melbourne businessman was the principal of a tax and accountancy firm Brandi & Co and prepared business activity statements on behalf of property development company Quantum 8 Group.
Between January and March in 2010, Brandi created multiple false business activity statements, such as including extra invoice amounts attributed to construction costs, with the aim of inflating the GST refund.
The refunds were then deposited into Brandi & Co’s bank account.
The ATO uncovered emails from Brandi ordering employees to “keep their traps and emails shut” about false refunds.
Brandi was also found ordering a staff member to provide false documents to substantiate the fake claims.
ATO Assistant Commissioner Ian Read said he was disappointed in Brandi’s behaviour given his position as a tax agent at the time.
“While the majority of registered agents do the right thing, unfortunately there are some agents who take advantage of their trusted position for financial benefit,” he said.
“Mr Brandi’s actions show a complete disregard for not only the law, but also his clients’ trust. Tax fraud is not a victimless crime – those who engage in this criminal behaviour are obtaining an unfair advantage over those who do the right thing.”
Read also warned other agents against attempting something similar.
“We take a firm stance against those whose actions damage the integrity of the tax system, including against members of the tax profession engaging in this type of behaviour,” he added.