On 29 March 2018, 67-year-old Michael Issakidis was sentenced to 10 years’ jail in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, for his role in a $135 million tax fraud and money laundering case, the largest ever successfully prosecuted in Australia.
Issakidis and his co-accused Anthony Dickson masterminded a corporate tax scam that netted them more than $63 million.
Dickson, who in 2015 was sentenced to 11 years’ jail, later had his sentence increased to 14 years on appeal. It marked the longest ever jail time for a tax fraud and money laundering matter. The significant sentences handed down to both Issakidis and Dickson bring an end to a six-year court case and fraud investigation by the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, which involved members of the ATO, AFP and CDPP.
Issakidis and Dickson were directors of a company called Neumedix Health Australasia Pty Ltd. This company purportedly purchased and invested in medical technologies from a Cayman Islands company known as Athena, with the funds partly provided by a Samoan financier. The technologies were valued by a supposedly independent valuer.
The court found, however, that all of these entities were set up and controlled by Dickson and Issakidis. The inflated valuations of the technologies then allowed the pair to claim massive tax deductions based on the depreciation of their value over time.
The pair created a web of false identities and siphoned money through the UK, Hong Kong and the UAE via fake domestic and international companies before coming back to them—often disguised as loans—to fund their lavish lifestyles, which included luxury cars, boats, properties, jewellery, and even a shopping centre in Queensland.
These proceeds of crime were seized by police after the two were arrested in April 2012.
On 29 March 2018, Michael Issakidis was sentenced to 10 years’ jail, in relation to:
- One count of conspiring to dishonestly cause a loss or risk of a loss contrary to section 135.4(5) of the Criminal Code.
- One count of conspiring to deal with property of a value of $1,000,000 or more believing it to be proceeds of crime contrary to section 11.5(1) and section 400.3(1) of the Criminal Code.
In sentencing, Justice Ian Harrison said Issakidis was “motivated by greed” and that “he had an almost unwavering belief in his own ability to explain the inexplicable”. His Honour found that the offending was extremely serious and warranted a lengthy term of imprisonment.
“The accepted loss to the Commonwealth is in excess of $100M. The offences depended upon and were conceived following intricate planning and preparation. The offences were committed over a number of years. They even proceeded in the face of what must have become apparent was the ATO’s interest in the deals and involved methodical attempts to satisfy that office that they were above board.”
Read the full judgment on this matter.