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Tax evader imprisoned after 19-year investigation

  • August 19 2020
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Tax evader imprisoned after 19-year investigation

By Cameron Micallef
August 19 2020

A tip-off 19 years ago has led to a key conspirator of an elaborate multimillion-dollar tax evasion scheme being imprisoned for six years.

Tax evader imprisoned

Tax evader imprisoned after 19-year investigation

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  • August 19 2020
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A tip-off 19 years ago has led to a key conspirator of an elaborate multimillion-dollar tax evasion scheme being imprisoned for six years.

Tax evader imprisoned

The District Court of Queensland found that Philip Northam was a key promoter of an intricate tax evasion scheme, which was designed to strip Australian companies of their assets, leaving them in a position where they were unable to pay their tax liabilities. 

The illegal scheme concocted a way for companies to transfer all assets of the company to its previous controllers, leaving the company an empty shell unable to pay its tax debts.

Along with four others, Mr Northam would strip a company of all its assets, bring in new straw directors, and shareholders were put in before the company was wound up, leaving the entities with no means to pay the tax liabilities.

A total of 15 companies took part in the scheme, putting $4.59 million worth of taxes at risk, but the ATO stated it has recovered most of the money. 

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The investigation started with a tip-off by a tax agent that brought the scheme to the attention of the ATO in early 2000, with the case referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), which began a criminal investigation.

Mr Northam, who moved to Vanuatu for a number of years, was finally arrested in November 2018 when he re-entered Australia, after an AFP warrant was issued a decade earlier.

The 60-year-old is the final person to be sentenced, following the sentencing of his co-conspirators Ian Sidney Henke, Robin David Huston and Brian Francis Fox in 2011, and Clarence Lawry Marae in 2013.

ATO assistant commissioner Aislinn Walwyn said the sentencing was a result of a 19-year investigation by the Tax Office and the AFP.

“This sentencing shows the tenacity and persistence of the ATO and our partner agencies to hold enablers of illegal schemes to account and to secure an outcome for the benefit of honest taxpayers. It also goes to show that tip-offs from the community do pay off,” Ms Walwyn said.

“Tax crime is not victimless. This arrangement was set up to deliberately evade paying tax, which is money that could have otherwise been used to fund vital public services that the community relies upon.”

AFP Northern Command Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale said Mr Northam’s sentencing highlights the commitment of the AFP and its partners to targeting those seeking to defraud the Australian public.

“Tax fraud can make for a complex investigation, but the AFP remains up to the challenge and is grateful for the specialist expertise of our partners through the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce that allows investigators to investigate these matters thoroughly and effectively present these matters before the courts,” Ms Gale concluded.

Tax evader imprisoned after 19-year investigation
Tax evader imprisoned
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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