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Thursday, May 18, 2017

The close calls that almost derailed a $165 million 'tax fraud' syndicate

ATO fraud case: A who's who of those alleged to be behind the conspiracy ATO fraud case: A who's who of those alleged to be behind the conspiracy Posted yesterday at 7:18pm Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.   Video: Police are investigating an alleged fraud of $165m from the ATO (ABC News) Related Story: 10th person arrested in ATO fraud scandal, charged over alleged tax conspiracy Related Story: Tax fraud allegation could undermine trillion-dollar investigations, senator says Related Story: How alleged tax fraudsters splurged millions living the high life Map: Sydney 2000 The ABC takes a look at the main players alleged to be behind a conspiracy to defraud the Australian Tax Office (ATO) of $165 million. A 10th person was arrested on May 18 and charged in relation to the alleged conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth of taxation revenue, and he and several others remain on bail. Who's who of the alleged tax fraud Six of those charged — including Adam and Lauren Cranston — face a maximum of 10 years in prison. But prosecutors agreed they could return home after meeting bail conditions because it will take months to sort out the maze of trusts and companies behind the alleged conspiracy. Michael Cranston Michael Cranston has been suspended from his role as the deputy commissioner of taxation at the ATO. Unlike his son, he is not being treated as one of the conspirators. Mr Cranston is alleged to have accessed files without authority and has been issued with a court attendance notice on a charge of abusing public office. Photo: ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston has been suspended from his position following the charges. (AAP: Paul Miller) Adam Cranston Described as a senior figure in the alleged conspiracy, Adam Cranston was arrested in his Bondi flat on Wednesday, as part of 28 raids across Sydney. He flew planes as a hobby and also had a keen interest in motorsport, with pictures online showing him at racetracks with several cars. Photo: Adam Cranston leaving the Sydney Police Centre. (AAP: Paul Miller) Lauren Cranston Lauren Cranston is the daughter of ATO heavyweight Michael Cranston and sister of Adam Cranston. A LinkedIn profile bearing her name says she is the manager of Aventis Capital. Her brother Adam has been pictured in a motor-racing suit emblazoned with the Aventis Capital logo. Photo: Lauren Cranston, sister of Adam Cranston and daughter of Michael Cranston. (Facebook) Dev Menon Dev Menon is an experienced tax lawyer listed as a partner with Sydney firm Clamenz Lawyers, where their website says he has advised on "payroll tax issues". The firm did not return calls to the ABC regarding the status of Menon's employment. Simon Anquetil Arrested at Sydney Airport on Thursday when he returned to Australia from overseas, Simon Anquetil is alleged to have been a former director of a payroll company, which he managed during the alleged offences. He lives in the postcard Sydney location of Lavender Bay. Photo: Simon Anquetil was the 10th person arrested over the alleged conspiracy. (Facebook) Devyn Hammond Listed on a LinkedIn profile as an office manager working in a Sydney architect firm, 24-year-old Devyn Hammond appeared in Wollongong Local Court on Thursday charged with conspiracy to defraud and is out on bail. Photo: Devyn Hammond has been charged over her involvement in the conspiracy. (Facebook) Jason Onley Jason Onley is the managing director of Northstar, a corporate finance and business consulting service. He has been charged with conspiracy to defraud and was granted bail. Chris Guillan Chris Guillan is a former colleague of Adam Cranston at an Australian insolvency firm. He has been charged with handling the proceeds of crime. An archived work biography appears to show he has an expertise in tax compliance and corporate governance, and held a senior position at an insolvency company in 2014. Topics: fraud-and-corporate-crime, law-crime-and-justice, crime, police, sydney-2000 ------------------------------------------------------- The Sydney Morning Herald NSW Subscribe Login Sign-up Become a SMH member today! Join today and you can easily save your favourite articles, join in the conversation and comment, plus select which news your want direct to your inbox. Create account now! HomeNews Sport Business World Politics Comment Property Entertainment Lifestyle Travel Cars Tech Video All NSW News National Environment Health Education Good Weekend Investigations Galleries Clique Photos Victoria News Queensland ACT News WA News Sydney Traffic Quizzes Home News NSW News EXCLUSIVE May 18 2017 - 10:56PM Save Print License article The close calls that almost derailed a $165 million 'tax fraud' syndicate Rachel Olding Ava Benny-Morrison Nick Ralston 695 reading now Be the first to know. Sign up for our breaking news alert An alleged $165 million tax fraud syndicate stretching from one of the country's highest tax officials to struggling drug addicts was almost derailed by a secret extortion bid and a lowly recruit who went rogue before federal police blew the conspiracy open on Thursday. Play Unmute Current Time 1:33 / Duration Time 1:32 Loaded: 0% Progress: 0%   Fullscreen Up Next 'The Big Australian' is rebranded Play Video Don't Play More BusinessDay Videos Previous slide Next slide Video duration 00:23 ATO boss charged over tax fraud Video duration 01:01 Scheduling work to different body clocks Video duration 00:43 ASX winners and losers - a snapshot Video duration 01:57 Jobless rate beats expectations Video duration 01:59 Fairfax boss quizzed on job cuts Better than a big new bank tax Video duration 01:02 'The Big Australian' is rebranded More videos Better than a big new bank tax Michael Pascoe has an alternative to the bank tax that would raise $9.5 billion over four years, 50 per cent more than the bank levy. The biggest white-collar fraud racket in Australian history unravelled after 300 federal police officers raided 28 properties and arrested nine people, including the son and daughter of Australian Taxation Office Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston. Mr Cranston has been issued with a future court attendance notice for allegedly abusing his position as a public officer by trying to access restricted information on an audit involving his son. Related Content Veteran journalist allegedly blackmailed tax syndicate ATO Deputy Commissioner allegedly tried to cut deal for son The extraordinary investigation has implicated high-ranking lawyers, tax office workers and veteran journalist Steve Barrett who has not been charged but has been accused by police of extorting $5 million from the syndicate after members had a falling out. Police allege $165 million was amassed in just a year by a group of high-flying school friends and business associates including Mr Cranston's son Adam, 30, Vaucluse businessman and former television sports commentator Jason Onley, 47 and Dev Menon, 33, a tax lawyer at Clamenz Lawyers who boasted online of his years of experience and "innovative approach to tax". Advertisement Mr Cranston's daughter Lauren, 24, and friend Devyn Hammond, 24, allegedly worked from laptops in a rented office in the Sutherland Shire, keeping detailed logs of illegal payments, companies and bank accounts. The syndicate allegedly ran a legitimate payroll company, Plutus Payroll, and accepted money from legitimate clients, including several government departments, to process payroll on their behalf. SHARE Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston near the Central Local Court in Sydney on Thursday. Photo: AAP They set up seven sub-contracted companies, or tier 2 companies, in mid 2016 and recruited unwitting drug addicts and welfare recipients to act as "straw directors" who provided a front for the syndicate. The tier 2 companies made payroll payments but withheld small amounts of PAYG each time, gradually siphoning it off to the syndicate. SHARE Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link Adam Cranston leaves the Sydney police centre after being released on bail. Photo: Daniel Munoz Some members also ripped off the straw directors, promising them $1000 a week but "clipping" off $500 to $800 for themselves, according to documents tendered in Central Local Court on Thursday. The documents reveal that the syndicate almost derailed in February, when Daniel Rostankovski, whose job it was to manage all the straw directors, believed someone in the syndicate had secretly taken $25 million.  SHARE Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link A Ford GT40 was one of the cars seized by the AFP. Photo: Australian Federal Police Police allege that at a meeting at Clamenz Lawyers on February 1, Mr Rostankovski, 28, and Mr Barrett, 59, blackmailed the group, demanding $5 million or Mr Barrett would expose the syndicate in the media. The group complied, using complex systems to disguise the payment in exchange for an agreement that the ATO, the police or the media would not be notified. SHARE Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link Lauren Cranston is allegedly involved in the $165 million tax fraud syndicate. Photo: Supplied In another close call, one of the straw directors turned rogue, locking the syndicate out of a tier 2 company's bank account and withdrawing $25,000.  In late January, the syndicate appeared rattled when the ATO served garnishee orders on several tier 2 companies regarding unpaid PAYG. SHARE Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link Police seized $1 million from a safe deposit box during Wednesday's raids. Photo: Australian Federal Police In an intercepted phone call, Adam Cranston said he was getting his father to "look into it". "He is looking into it but considering he doesn't know about it, it can't be like the biggest thing since Ben Hur," he allegedly told Mr Menon. SHARE Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link Devyn Hammond, one of the alleged conspirators, leaves Wollongong police station. Photo: Adam McLean "There is no question this would be the biggest tax fraud," Mr Menon replied. Michael Cranston, who had pioneered much of the ATO's tax avoidance work, allegedly instructed two ATO officers to look up restricted information relating to an audit. SHARE Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Link Chris Guillan leaves Sydney Police centre after being released on bail. Photo: Daniel Munoz The trio did not know about the syndicate but they have been suspended and an internal investigation has been launched. On Thursday, acting ATO Commissioner Andrew Mills said he was confident the ATO's systems had not been breached. SHARE Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Link Illustration: Cathy Wilcox  "The investigation has so far not revealed any evidence of actual intervention or influence on audit cases, or of money being refunded, or of tax liability being changed," he said. He described Michael Cranston as one of the organisation's "long-serving senior officers" who had "quite an illustrious [career] up until this point". AFP Deputy Commissioner Leanne Close said the syndicate appeared to use the money to fund a "lavish lifestyle". Among the items seized under proceeds of crime were 25 motor vehicles, including luxury cars and racing cars, 12 motorbikes, 18 residential properties, two aircraft, $1 million from a safe deposit box, firearms, jewellery, bottles of Grange wine and artworks. More than 100 bank accounts were closed. Some money was allegedly laundered through Rommark Corporation, a property development firm run by eastern suburbs identities Michael Teplitsky and Boris Markovsky. The pair are not suspected of being involved in the alleged fraud. Six people have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth, three have been charged with blackmail offences and two charged with dealing with proceeds of crime. Seven members appeared in court on Thursday were granted strict bail and offered large sums of money as surety. Plutus Payroll, a preferred tender for federal government payroll services, had its accounts frozen earlier this month. Workers from the Department of Justice, Transport NSW, the NDIS and Department of Defence were among those who complained of not being paid. with Louise Hall RECOMMENDED Donald Trump's Campaign Team 'Had At... Huffington Post Is tax time the time to invest in tech? Crazy Domains Jennifer Lawrence responds to pole dancing video:... lifestyle Boyd Plumbing & Gas hired a new apprentice DTF Dress Made Out Of 10,000 Starburst Wrappers Has A... Huffington Post Top Home Loans 2017: Is Your Loan On the List? Mozo Donald Trump Lashes Out At Justice... Huffington Post Is my child ready for big school? Goodstart Australian woman 'strip-searched and... news Mortgage Broker Secrets - 4 Things They Will... Mozo  powered by plista Advertisement Most Popular The close calls that almost derailed a $165 million 'tax fraud' syndicate Veteran journalist allegedly blackmailed tax syndicate The knock on the door that changed a homeowner's dream How an alleged $165m tax fraud syndicate unravelled 'You don't want to mess with us': AFP raid business in $165m fraud probe Property News What clearance rates really mean when ... How to instantly update the look of ... Follow Sydney Now Share on FacebookFacebook Follow SMH Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Newsletters Advertisement Most Viewed Today Previous slideNext slide NSW The knock on the door that changed a homeowner's dream Veteran journalist allegedly blackmailed tax syndicate 'You don't want to mess with us': AFP raid business in $165m fraud probe Sydney bus drivers not at work despite strike being ruled illegal The close calls that almost derailed a $165 million 'tax fraud' syndicate The Sydney Morning Herald ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston to be charged over tax fraud The 25th Amendment solution to remove Donald Trump 'We should celebrate our victories': Albanese critiques Shorten's budget reply Suddenly, this is a President staring down the barrel of impeachment Jennifer Lawrence could not care less about that video of her pole dancing The Age ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston to be charged over tax fraud 'We should celebrate our victories': Albanese critiques Shorten's budget reply Armed gang smashes way into Malvern East jewellery store Suddenly, this is a President staring down the barrel of impeachment The struggle to make people take gut health seriously Brisbane Times The Brisbane suburbs that will suffer 'extreme' temperature rises under infill CCC warns public servants not to 'peek' at private information ATO Deputy Commissioner allegedly tried to cut deal for son Queensland drug court could return, with alcohol also in the mix Health funds accused of 'obscene' profit Canberra Times ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston to be charged over tax fraud Canberra's great public service wage slump Heavy rain forecast for Canberra across weekend UC student couldn't believe lecturer would be 'so sleazy' ATO Deputy Commissioner allegedly tried to cut deal for son WA Today 'I've won the bloody Lotto': Perth tradie finds ticket in work pants Dark side of the high life: Cottesloe's hidden health costs Pet Labrador stabbed to death in Mirrabooka Park Family of Perth billionaire fights secret daughter's $25m win Deregistered: Perth vet let students perform surgery Get StartedSubscribe today for unlimited access from only 50c a day The Sydney Morning Herald Share via Email Share on Facebook Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter RSS Feed Products and Services AM Edition PM Edition SMH for iPad Today's Paper Subscribe Manage My Subscription Subscriber Hub Corporate Subscriptions Digital Subscription FAQs Good Food Guide The Store by Fairfax Newsletters Sydney Morning Herald Sitemap About Us Contact Us Subscribers Advertise With Us Text Version Site Accessibility Guide Privacy Policy Conditions of Use Classifieds Place an Ad Cars Dating Jobs Real Estate Commercial Real Estate Oneflare Nabo Tributes Celebrations Our Sites SMH The Age AFR.com Adzuna Domain Drive RSVP Essential Baby Home Price Guide Weatherzone Fairfax Media Account Details News Store Archive Fairfax Syndication Careers Events Press Council Copyright © 2017Fairfax Media Website Feedback Cast of characters Michael Cranston, 58 ATO Deputy Commissioner Started working at ATO in 2003 and now leads its audits of the country's richest people and private businesses. Will be charged on June 13 with abusing his position as a public official to gain advantage. The AFP will allege he accessed confidential information for his son, Adam Cranston. No suggestion he was involved in the tax fraud syndicate exposed on Wednesday. Alleged $165 million tax racket Alleged syndicate involved Sydney-based payroll company Plutus Payroll, touted as as "Australia's First Zero-Fee Payroll Service". Companies paid money to Plutus on basis it would be used to pay employees' wages and salaries as well as PAYG contributions to ATO. The AFP alleges a percentage of the funds that should have been paid to the ATO was skimmed off by the syndicate and spent on lavish lifestyle expenses. The seven alleged co-conspirators Adam Cranston, 30 Son of Michael Listed as a director of Plutus' sole shareholder, Synep Limited, and allegedly controlled Plutus. Lauren Cranston, 24 Daughter of Michael Allegedly ran so-called "second tier" companies that received cash paid to Plutus which should have gone to ATO. Dev Menon, 33 Tax lawyer and partner at Sydney law firm Clamenz lawyers Previously worked at KPMG. Allegedly gave advice about how the scheme should be managed. Jason Onley, 47 One of Adam Cranston's business partners and a director of Synep He is a former sports commentator who has worked with Channel Nine and Foxtel. Simon Anquetil, 34 Former chairman and CEO of Plutus Allegedly managed Plutus during the conspiracy. Daniel Rostankovski, 28 Allegedly recruited and managed "straw directors" who appeared, on paper, to run the "second-tier" companies that received cash paid to Plutus which should have gone to ATO. AFP alleges he turned on members of syndicate and tried to extort money from them. Devyn Hammond, 24 Worked with Lauren Cranston to run the "second-tier" companies which received cash from Plutus. Also charged Dan Hausman Former director of Plutus' sole shareholder, Synep Charged with demand with menaces with intent to obtain or gain or cause loss. Blackmail attempt Steve Barrett Veteran Sydney journalist Was allegedly involved with Rostankovski in an attempt to blackmail members of the syndicate. Barrett has not been charged.

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