$165 million tax fraud is Australia’s largest ever white collar crime

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The man responsible for investigating tax fraud is now at the centre of a $165 million Australian Tax Office (ATO) fraud investigation.

The $165 million rort is believed to be Australia’s largest ever white collar crime.

ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston is just one of the subjects of an investigation of the alleged tax fraud, along with his son Adam, his daughter Lauren and at least eight other people.

Although the Australian Federal Police (AFP) does not believe Michael Cranston knew about his son’s activities, it is likely he’ll still be charged with abusing his position as a public officer.

Nine people were arrested following an eight-month long investigation codenamed Operation Elbrus. After 27 raids on homes and businesses across Sydney on Wednesday, Mr Cranston’s son was arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth.

Among those also charged were veteran reporter Steve Barret, Daniel Rostankovski, jailed NSW Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid and Mr Obeid’s former lawyer Sevag Chalabian.

Mr Barret and Mr Chalabian have been accused of blackmailing the syndicate.

The conspirators ran a legitimate payroll firm Plutus Payroll, accepting money from clients and processing payroll on their behalf. This money was the funnelled to subcontracted ‘tier-two’ companies that made the payroll payments. These tier-two companies were ‘fronts’ that were headed by people such as unemployed tradies, business owners and a now-missing woman from Gerroa, New South Wales.

Although the initial activity was legal, the tier-two companies failed to honour their Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) commitments to the ATO. This set alarm bells ringing.

Police say the group spent these diverted taxpayer funds on a lavish lifestyle. So far, officers have seized 25 motor vehicles, $15 million in bank accounts, 18 residential properties, two aircraft, $1 million in a safe deposit box and much more.

Acting Commissioner of Taxation, Andrew Mills, is confident that the ATO’s systems have not been compromised.

“The information that I have to date shows no compromise of the operation of our administration. Our systems, controls and procedures worked effectively,” said Mr Mills.

“We have been able to successfully isolate and protect the investigation, working well with the AFP over many months to build a picture of what has been happening.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the alleged fraud was a regrettable criminal activity.

“I’m not suggesting that this alleged conspiracy is anything other than a very regrettable criminal activity, the fact that there has been a person in the ATO that has been associated or involved,” said Mr Turnbull.

“But the important point is that the system has worked.

“The conspiracy has been uncovered and the people who are alleged to be involved in it are being brought to justice.”

“No matter how high they may be in a government department … they are being watched,” he said.

According to Acting AFP Deputy Operations Commissioner, Leanne Close, the evidence found so far only goes back to 2016, so it’s possible that more information will come to light.

Read more at The Australian

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 99
  1. 0

    I will tell you how it happened, no one is watching the shopkeeper.

    • 0

      If no-one is watching, how did he get caught up in this?

      Try using a bit of common sense.

    • 0

      I agree nicestman77. I think we need a BIG NEW BROOM to make a clean sweep of the whole disastrous coalition regime.

    • 0

      It’s not just the coalition regime – it’s the entire supremacist attitude of government at the highest levels… according to them they’re all better than the rest and have an absolute divine right to rule….

    • 0

      CRIMINALS – That’s what they are – excepting just a few!!!

    • 0

      Hey Play Fairly when was Eddie Obeid in the coalition.
      He is a labor crook from my memory as most of them are?

    • 0

      Wow, a public servant is arrested and suddenly it’s the fault of a politician? Politicians of all persuasions come and go but the public service remains constant. The AFP is driving this, not the relevant minister.

    • 0

      Old Man, the government in power holds the ultimate responsibility to ensure sound administration and operation of all procedures within all Commonwealth Public Service Departments.

      It is obvious we now need a major review of current legislation enforced by at least 2 government departments. The first being Centrelink legislation applicable to seriously ill people dealing with major health issues such as cancer, MS, and other debilitating conditions which affect people. All of these people are placed on Newstart Allowance and denied a DSP. There is no such thing as a Sickness Benefit to help people keep a roof over their head and food on the table whilst they are fighting to survive a bit longer. HORRIBLE PUNITIVE LEGISLATION. Now it seems the ATO also needs some administrative review to close some obvious loopholes.

      The ATO probably

  2. 0

    Well what an interesting observation. Simple as that. Sherlock Holmes a his best.

  3. 0

    What else will this corporation come up with ?!
    In fact, it is an illegal corporation and that’s why this is happening.

  4. 0

    Never mind, us pensioners will just have to tighten belts another notch to pay for it.

    • 0

      No, it may not be pensioners this time…..perhaps they will reduce the unemployed Newstart Allowance again….those unemployed kids are costing the government way too much money…..they sit at home and watch TV most days. Time for a Reality check by this government. There are VERY FEW JOBS, and the kids are at home watching TV because there is not a great deal else they can afford to do on Newstart once they have submitted their resumes.

    • 0

      Anyone under 22 is on Youth Allowance not Newstart. If their parents earn more than about $50,000 most are not eligible for youth allowance. So we have a whole lot of parents working now to pay for these unemployed kids staying home watching youtube videos (TV is so yesterday) instead of the government.

    • 0

      When one reaches 18 then I do not consider them as kids or youths. They can vote (an adult) they can fight for their country (an adult) and a myriad of other things. They can also say to their parents “get Stuffed” it is my life.

      How come parents are responsible for them suddenly when they are free to do anything under the law (including voting to kick a government out)

      $50,000 is not a lot to live on these days especially if parents have other responsibilities (Like under age kids)

      Get real people.

    • 0

      $50,000 – what a joke when they were happy to pay fat cat chicks on $150k for six months to go home and sprog.

      Just letting the peasants eat cake, since it’s their own fault for not ensuring their children were born into a time of easy employment… (bloody irresponsible peasants – why don’t they get a good job and buy up a heap of homes?)

    • 0

      Old geezer
      Not only that but theses young ppl cannot register as unemployed so the true figures are fake and u/e is Sky high on top of that if your child decides to better themselves and go to uni the parents have to support them until they turn 25 been there with my son

  5. 0

    This government is cracking down on crime both from the big end of town and the small end.
    Like Treasurer Morrison said…”If you’re doing the wrong thing we will find you.”

  6. 0

    Well,well,well- next you will tell me the Police force is whistle clean ????!!!
    With heritage of Irish thugs and anti-establishment culture, why am I not surprised. Who will they catch next ? Not their maaates.

  7. 0

    The big end of town cheating never the do it legally with the blessing of the Liberal Party.

    • 0

      So floss, do you believe that Labor Party has nobody in the “Big End of Town”. Try, “Nifty”, “Goggles” Carr, and the latest dag ( shortr runt with glasses- who purchased the Wangi Power station and waterfront sites for a million. You know the one that was on the news last year- I forgot his name but the face is hard to forget. His son sold IP without licences to the Middle East. Are they from the little-end of town- or what ? Pleeeeeease— I thought we have moved on from these old labels from the ’60’s of “werkers” and “toffs”. Apparently not.

    • 0

      I didn’t hear about the Wangi power station…. what a windfall – a million bucks for that site? Historical footnote – my father took long service leave from the Fire Brigade and went to work there to earn some extra money… and good money it was, too… paid twice for going to work once… well done.

    • 0

      Floss it appears you have forgotten about one of your left wing mates Eddie Obead and also some redhead Prime Minister who is now in charge of the Victorian depression Commission and just rigged a raffle to win herself the equivalent of $5000. Seems a leopard never loses its spots.

  8. 0

    Now look, there’s nothing to worry about…..Messrs. Morrison & Turnbull have assured us that “this just shows that the system is working”……..
    ow if you believe that you probably believe in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

  9. 0

    I do not belive any of the ATO systems where working as an outside source brought this fraudulent system to be noticed, after a period of time.
    Then through only Blackmail Activity.
    To say you have no knowledge of what was going on is in its’ self unbeliveable when you take in consideration all the seized assets involed.
    I make a slight error filling out my TAX Return especially in my favor of few dollars I get a please explain and this is warning not to let it happen again.
    I hope ATO digs deep until they reach the Core. {;-)

  10. 0

    Corruption in Australia …No way he he he … Beautiful country except is very corrupted even more now that we have uncontrolled immigration…. Look at Melbourne read about the drugs in AU …we are at the top of the list of drug users countries … look at our young people the future of AU and of course Centrelink illegal recipients and more ….are you surprise???? I am not at all

    These is just part of our day to day culture I m not surprise …lets keep digging and look at police, the judiciary system the Judges the Lawyers etc etc …. Is part of the AU culture that has been heritage from the English Irish and other nationalities over the years……

    Cranston and his family just got to confident….. We have enormous white colour crime in AU but because is the high end of the society nothing happens…. they help each other and we never know….

    • 0

      Absolutely right – for a very long time I’ve been calling for a Royal Commission into the judiciary and their jurisprudence…. funny how they can slam Jo Bloggs on the word of a police officer (after all those Royal Commissions, too), yet Harry Flieghenhy (just pronouce the name – flyen’ high) the stockbroker millionaire is a sacred cow…. and even a serial killer needs proof for conviction…

    • 0

      Trebor ….mate we are stuffed …nothing we can do this is now part of the Australian values and people will have to respect as the PM is saying in the new immigrations policy to embrace the Australian values well this are now part of our Australian values …….

      We are talking here about a person that has to be 100% totally trusted and looking after our dollars but hey hey …. he has listen to the PM and adopted the new Australian values …..

      We are totally FFFFFF forget about the Checks and Balances and who watch the watchers as Mutley is saying … nobody is doing anything unless there is money running around their pockets then yes they may do something …

      Au is very very corrupted at the moment and out of control …Totally ….

    • 0

      Most people doing this think they are smart and they won’t be caught. I don’t think so! For one thing you do not flaunt your ill gotten gains. That is a red flag for authorities to start investigating.

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