A Sydney accountant has been convicted and sentenced today for his role in advising a client on how to hide funds offshore with entities in Hong Kong and Switzerland, resulting in the avoidance of $4.5 million in tax.
In July 2015, following a nine week trial by jury, Raymond Clifford Osborne, 63, was found guilty of two counts of defrauding the Commonwealth and two counts of dishonestly causing a loss to the Commonwealth.
He was sentenced to two years imprisonment, to be released forthwith upon entering into recognizance of $4000 without security with a condition to be of good behaviour for two years (to October 2017).
The sentence was handed down by acting Judge A Garling in the District Court of NSW on 30 October.
Australian Crime Commission acting Executive Director Operations, Charlie Carver, said that hiding income by moving it offshore is a serious criminal offence.
“Accountants and lawyers who help clients evade their tax responsibility by using complicated, deceptive schemes such as this one, will be investigated and prosecuted,” Mr Carver warned.
Australian Taxation Office, Deputy Commissioner, Michael Cranston, said this sentence sends a clear warning to those who are in positions of trust and decide to facilitate others to avoid paying their fair share of tax.
“Professional advisors play an important role in helping us to maintain the integrity of the Australian tax system and ensure people meet their tax obligations,” he said.
“The majority of professional advisors act within the legal boundaries, however, there are a few like Mr Osborne, who instead choose to help clients evade their tax obligations under the law.”
“The community and other advisors who operate within the law, expect us to bring people to account for their actions—and we will.”
On Wednesday 25 November 2015, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions lodged an appeal with the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal regarding the sentence imposed on Mr Raymond Osborne - that it was manifestly inadequate for the crimes committed. Outcome pending.
Project Wickenby and Serious Financial Crime Taskforce
Project Wickenby was the largest tax evasion investigation in Australia’s history and resulted in $2.29 billion in tax liabilities raised and $985.67 million in outstanding revenue recouped.
While the Project Wickenby Taskforce has formally ended, some prosecutions are still underway.
The Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, established 1 July 2015, will build on the good work undertaken during Project Wickenby and will allow agencies to continue to focus on serious international tax evasion as well as other criminal activities related to phoenix businesses and trusts. Australian authorities remain committed to finalising outstanding matters, including the arrest, extradition and trial of Philip Egglishaw. Mr Egglishaw has been the primary target of Project Wickenby. It is believed he remains in hiding in Switzerland.
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