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A collection of updates, articles and papers written by The Little CFO & The Little CFO Legal

Jail time for illegal phoenix operators 9/10/21

3 South Australian men have been jailed for orchestrating a multi-million-dollar illegal phoenix operation.

Of the three, the 'instigator and architect of the scheme' was sentenced to 8 years' imprisonment.

The trio established labour hire companies to pocket more than $4.6 million in GST and PAYG withholding, before starting new businesses in their place.

Assistant Commissioner Ian Read welcomed the sentence handed down

“This type of behaviour is blatant fraud against the Commonwealth, and we will not tolerate it. Phoenixing is an intentional act that requires planning and the alleged behaviour in this case demonstrates a deliberate attempt to defraud the tax and super system,” Mr Read said.

The trio attempted to hide their illegal activities by appointing shadow directors for the companies, exploiting their relationship with employees or acquaintances living in Australia, at least three of whom were on student visas.

“Today’s result demonstrates the ATO’s commitment to detecting and prosecuting tax crimes. We take our responsibility to protect the tax and super systems seriously,” Mr Read said.

The ATO-led Phoenix Taskforce takes a whole-of-government approach to combating illegal phoenix activity. Established in 2014, the taskforce includes 38 other Federal, State and Territory government agencies, including the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Attorney-General’s Department, the Fair Work Ombudsman and Australian Border Force.

Illegal phoenix activity occurs when a new company is created to continue the business of a company that has been deliberately liquidated to avoid paying its debts, including taxes, creditors and employee entitlements. This behaviour can be repeated many times. Since the taskforce was established in 2014 to 30 June 2021, the ATO has raised more than $1.54 billion in liabilities from audits and reviews of illegal phoenix activities. It's also returned more than $687 million to the community.

Read more and view the ATO media release

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