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$1b channelled through tax avoiding payroll company

19 May 2017 2:16 PM
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More than $1 billion in wages was channelled through the payroll company at the heart of the fraud case that has rocked the Australian Tax Office and left thousands of clients without pay.

Mr Anquetil appeared in Central Local Court on Friday morning, when he was bailed on charges of conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth of tax revenue totalling more than $165 million. He faces a maximum 10 years in jail.

Mr Anquetil was at one time the sole director of Plutus Payroll, which has been the subject of a 10-month investigation by the Australian Federal Police codenamed Operation Elbrus.

Police allege he continued to "control" and manage the company as it morphed from legitimate business to a perpetrator of major fraud.

Details of the elaborate fraud are still unfolding but analysis by AFR Weekend suggests that over a period of 11 months Plutus handled more than $1 billion in gross wages and other entitlements, which then flowed into a series of "tier two" companies run by "straw directors".

The Australian Federal Police has alleged that the conspirators paid between 50 per cent and 60 per cent of the money to the ATO in an attempt to avoid detection.

Mr Anquetil's arrest brings the total number of people charged in relation to Operation Elbrus to 10.

Michael Cranston has been issued with a court attendance notice for allegedly abusing his position as a public official. However, he was not part of the criminal syndicate, according to the Australian Federal Police.

The others charged include Devyn Michelle Hammond, Daniel Rostankovski, Jason Cornell Onley, Christopher James Guillan, Aaron Leo Paul and Daniel Simon Hausman.

Three other ATO officers, including assistant commissioners Tony Poulakis and Scott Burrows, have been stood down after they "did gain unauthorised access to tax records", after a request by Adam Cranston.

Authorities say the alleged fraud is one of the nation's largest corporate crimes "in terms of the number of conspirators and the amount of money involved".

Mr Anquetil is associated with a series of companies including GoodShift Ventures, Tech Pilot Fund Innovation and eStrategy Group.

He established Plutus in 2014. Using aggressive 'zero fee' marketing, and agreements with recruitment firms, Plutus's business grew quickly.


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