Industry News

Senior Australian tax commissioner to be investigated

Thursday, 18 May, 2017

The Australian Taxation Office's (ATO) deputy commissioner, Michael Cranston, is being investigated for abuse of power – press reports claim he accessed internal documents relating to an ATO audit of his son's business.

Cranston's son, Adam, and eight other persons are being investigated by the ATO over their alleged involvement in a large-scale tax fraud scheme. Income tax collected from employees' salaries by legitimate payroll processing companies under the Pay As You Earn system is alleged to have been diverted to other accounts instead of being paid to the ATO. The size of the alleged fraud is estimated at AUD165 million. The persons concerned have been charged with fraud and money laundering and more than 100 bank accounts have been frozen.

The Australian Federal Police say they do not suspect Michael Cranston of any involvement with this operation, and that he was an 'unwitting participant in fraud'. Cranston has not yet been charged, says Reuters, and the summons they have served on him relates only to unauthorised access to information, and having 'abused his position as a public officer and senior official of the Commonwealth'. Two other ATO officials have also been served with warrants to appear in court.

'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', commented Acting Commissioner of Taxation, Andrew Mills. 'I have commissioned investigations into a very small number of other employees and we will be forensic in our examination of what has occurred. The people being investigated have been suspended without pay.'

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