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Accountant jailed for tax fraud

A 33-year-old Perth accountant was today sentenced in the Perth District Court to four years’ jail for tax fraud, after obtaining and trying to obtain over $250,000 from his clients and the Australian Taxation Office.

An employee of Finkelstein Hickmott between May 2016 and July 2017, certified practising accountant Shane Read lodged 21 of his clients’ tax returns without authorisation, and accessed four of his client’s activity statements credit account balances.

This resulted in the wrongful payment of tax refunds into Mr Read’s own bank account.

After a pre-issue audit by the ATO of an unauthorised business activity statement lodgement, which contained false information in a further attempt to obtain funds from the ATO, it was discovered that Mr Read had obtained a financial advantage committing fraud in the name of unwitting clients.

He was found to be altering the bank account details of his clients to divert ATO refunds to his personal bank account details without his clients’ knowledge.

ATO assistant commissioner Tim Roach welcomed the sentence, saying it reflected the serious nature of Mr Read’s crimes.

“Tax and BAS agents, accountants and other trusted advisors have a critical role as intermediaries, conduits and influencers of behaviour in the tax and superannuation system,” Mr Roach said.

“The ATO has a strong commitment to protecting honest taxpayers by identifying and prosecuting any tax agents who abuse their position of trust by either conspiring with or against their clients to defraud the tax system.

“The ATO has a range of sophisticated systems in place to identify risky behaviour and take action to improve compliance.

“We welcome this sentence handed down today and we will continue to work with tax professionals to ensure the integrity of the system and to protect honest tax professionals and the community from these types of crimes.”