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Businessman Sentenced To More Than Eight Years In Jail In Wickenby Case

Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

21 December 2010

An Australian businessman has been sentenced to eight years and six months jail in the New South Wales Supreme Court after he was convicted of money laundering and tax fraud. He was found guilty on November 19 after a five-week trial which followed investigations into the use of offshore tax structures under Project Wickenby.

Michael Milne was found guilty of offences relating to money laundering and tax evasion involving the use of an offshore tax haven structure. The structure hid assets and income in a complicated series of transactions involving Swiss and Dutch entities, evading tax payable on a capital gain of more than AUD7.5m.

Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo said that the sentencing demonstrated the serious nature of tax evasion: “This result serves as a clear warning to people who use offshore structures to defraud the tax system that they face significant consequences for their actions”.

He had earlier said that tax evasion through the use of illegal offshore tax haven schemes is unfair to those in business and the community who do the right thing. “The Australian community and honest taxpayers are burdened by those who evade paying tax.

“Every defrauded tax dollar means less funding for community services including health, education and other government funded programs. This result serves as a clear warning to participants and promoters of illegal offshore schemes that they face significant and very serious consequences for their actions.

“Our ability to trace fund flows around the world is constantly expanding and our detection methods are continuing to increase in sophistication and accuracy. It is only a matter of time before we catch those who are doing the wrong thing”, Mr D’Ascenzo said.

Project Wickenby is a cooperative partnership between the ATO, Australian Federal Police, Australian Crime Commission, Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, with support from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, the Australian Government Solicitor and the Attorney-General’s Department.

As at October 31, 2010 the Project Wickenby taskforce had resulted in: AUD951.61m in tax liabilities raised, AUD229.52m in tax collected, 60 people charged with serious offences, 16 people been criminally convicted, 26 criminal investigations been undertaken, AUD56.25m in assets been restrained, and AUD301.7m gathered in improved voluntary compliance.

TAGS: compliance | tax | business | Australia | offshore | education

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