A Mildura man has been sentenced in the County Court of Victoria this week to 7.5 years in prison after obtaining more than $830,000 in fraudulent GST refunds contrary to s134.2 of the Criminal Code (Cth).
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) says this latest result of the extensive efforts under Operation Protego serves as a warning to those who deliberately try to defraud the government for their own personal gain.
Linden Phillips had recently been released from custody when he lodged false business activity statements, dishonestly obtaining $834,437 in GST refunds.
After pleading guilty to 2 counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception, and one count each of attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception and dealing with proceeds of crime, Phillips was sentenced to a total effective term of imprisonment of 7 years and 6 months, with a non-parole period of 5 years.
ATO Deputy Commissioner John Ford said the ATO takes attempts at GST fraud seriously.
'We’ve warned the community and have urged offenders to come forward to the ATO or face even more severe consequences', Mr Ford said.
'This outcome clearly demonstrates that those who steal funds from the community that would otherwise be used for essential services, will face the full force of the law.'
'GST fraud is not a victimless crime, and we continue to work closely with state and federal law enforcement agencies to bring offenders to account. Our work with Mildura police has been especially effective in curbing widespread fraud in a local area.'
The ATO is working with the Australian Federal Police led Criminal Asset Confiscation Taskforce to ensure that the funds illegally obtained, as well as any property bought with the proceeds of GST fraud, are forfeited to the Commonwealth.
Under Operation Protego, which was initiated in response to widespread GST fraud activity, the ATO has taken action against more than 56,000 individuals.
'Our message is clear - if you don’t run a legitimate business, you cannot claim GST refunds,' said Mr Ford.
email@example.com | 02 6216 1901