Final person sentenced over Operation Elbrus tax fraud

A Sutherland man has been jailed by the Supreme Court of NSW for his role in a $105 million tax fraud, becoming the final person to be sentenced under Operation Elbrus.

The man was sentenced yesterday (Thursday, 1 February, 2024) to four and a half years’ jail, with a non-parole period of two years and three months.

Operation Elbrus, also known as the Plutus Payroll fraud, was a joint AFP and Australian Taxation Office (ATO) investigation that became a key focus for the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce in 2017. The man is the fifteenth person to have been sentenced.

The operation revealed that a group of people used payroll services companies to divert pay-as-you-go withholding tax and goods and services tax owed to the Australian Taxation Office.

The man, 36, was a long-term friend of one of the main conspirators, he operated a company which received funds from the conspiracy, and made and received payments that personally benefited his friend and himself.

He pleaded guilty on 31 July, 2023, to the following charges:

  • One count of dealing with proceeds of crime – money or property worth $1,000,000 or more – contrary to section 400.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
  • One count of dealing with proceeds of crime – money or property worth $50,000 or more – contrary to section 400.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

It follows the sentencing of a Menai man, 36, and a Vaucluse man, 53, in August (2023), who both received 15 years’ imprisonment for their roles as key facilitators in the scheme.

AFP Detective Superintendent Kristie Cressy said investigations into tax fraud were extremely complex, lengthy and required highly skilled detectives, forensic accountants and technical experts.

“The AFP is proud of our dedicated members who worked diligently to dismantle this deceptive and elaborate scheme – without your work, these convictions would not be possible,” Det-Supt Cressy said.

“Tax cheats cannot evade law enforcement forever and will not be rewarded for their greedy actions.”

ATO-led Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) Chief John Ford said the sentencing brought an end to the biggest tax fraud in Australia’s history.

“It was a blatant attempt to rob the Australian community of money that could otherwise be invested in community services such as health and education,” said SFCT Chief Ford.

“By working with partners across government agencies, the SFCT has an immense capability to share information and bring financial crime offenders to account, which has been demonstrated with Operation Elbrus.

“For those who think they can hide their illegal income, it’s only a matter of time before you are caught.”

The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

/Public Release. View in full here.