Man sentenced for witness tampering in long-running tax evasion case

A former Sydney tax accountant has today been sentenced to three years and four months in jail in the Downing Centre District Court for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The 72-year-old man was charged by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in 2016 over a false testimony given during civil proceedings in the Federal Court in 2013.

During those proceedings – which related to a tax evasion investigation – one of the witnesses gave evidence relating to his Swiss-based company’s apparent ownership of offshore companies. It was later found that this testimony was fabricated at the direction of the Sydney man, who had coached the witness to give false evidence.

As a result, the AFP issued the man a court attendance notice on 15 September 2016 for the criminal charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, contrary to section s43(1) of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth). The man was found guilty on 26 November 2019.

He was given a non-parole period of one year and eight months.

AFP Eastern Command Detective Superintendent Geoffrey Turner said this investigation was about maintaining the integrity of the legal system.

“It is our role to investigate and put alleged offenders before the courts, and we rely on the courts to be the ultimate finders of fact,” Detective Superintendent Turner said.

“No one is above the law, and the public should feel confident that anyone who tries to interfere with the judicial process is risking facing potentially serious punishments.”

The tax evasion investigation linked to this man began under the ATO’s Project Wickenby, established to protect the integrity of Australia’s financial and regulatory systems. This remit now sits within the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT), an ATO-led joint-agency taskforce established on 1 July 2015. It brings together the knowledge, resources and experience of relevant law enforcement and regulatory agencies to identify and address the most serious and complex forms of financial crime.

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