On 9 February 2018, 74-year-old Malcolm Sanders was sentenced in the Townsville District Court to five years imprisonment after pleading guilty to 29 charges—20 counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception, four counts of attempting to obtaining financial advantage by deception and five counts of using false documents to obtain a gain.
Between 1 May 2009 and 30 March 2011, Mr Sanders lodged 24 fraudulent Business Activity Statements (BAS) with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). He claimed he was entitled to GST refunds totalling $676,779, when no such refunds were due.
On each BAS Mr Sanders lodged, he signed a declaration stating the information contained therein was true and correct and that all requirements had been met. The ATO paid Mr Sanders $567,908 in GST refunds in relation to 20 BAS he lodged. The ATO then commenced an audit into the December 2010 BAS lodged by Mr Sanders. Whilst the subject of this audit, Mr Sanders lodged a further 3 BAS, claiming he was entitled to a further $108,871 in GST refunds. In response to requests from ATO auditors, he supplied a number of false documents purportedly in support of the claims he had made on his BAS.
Mr Sanders claimed that he sourced scrap metal and arranged for quality inspections prior to export to an overseas company. He was unable to produce any documents that supported these claims.
When the ATO enquired with entities Mr Sanders claimed to have dealt with, such as scrap metal dealers, shipping companies and Customs, they had no records of any dealings with Mr Sanders. Mr Sanders’ bank accounts showed no business income, expenses or wages for a business operating within Australia.
In sentencing, Judge Farr SC noted Mr Sanders previous conviction for dishonesty and remarked that the offences were not victimless and the Australian taxpayer was out of pocket as a result of the offending. Judge Farr SC remarked that the offending was repetitive and protracted and Mr Sanders behaviour leading up to the charge and following his plea of guilty were inconsistent with any contrition.
At the time of sentence, he was an undischarged bankrupt. None of the $567,908 fraudulently obtained had been repaid to the Commonwealth and Judge Farr SC indicated that there was unlikely to be any restitution forthcoming.
On 9 February 2018, Malcolm Sanders was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of three years, in relation to:
- 20 counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception contrary to section 134.2(1) Criminal Code (Cth)
- 4 counts of attempting to obtain a financial advantage by deception contrary to sections 11.1(1) and 134.2(1) Criminal Code (Cth)
Sanders was also sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, to be served concurrently, in relation to:
- 5 counts of using a false document with the intention of dishonestly obtaining a gain contrary to section 145.1(1) Criminal Code (Cth).
Mr Sanders will be eligible for parole in 2021.