Perth accountant, Peter Stamatopoulos, was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of four years on Thursday 22 June in Perth District Court after pleading guilty to dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage of more than $2m. Mr Stamatopoulos lodged fraudulent tax returns on behalf of family members and clients without their consent or knowledge.
Between 2011 and 2015 Mr Stamatopoulos devised a complex plan to defraud the ATO by amending company, trust and individual income tax returns to claim non-existent imputation credits, abusing his position of trust as a director of an accounting firm. The fraudulently obtained refunds were subsequently transferred to several accounts he controlled which he then used to fund his mortgage, lifestyle and the purchase of shares.
When the accounting firm Mr Stamatopoulos worked for discovered his deception, they immediately reported it to the relevant authorities and cooperated fully with regard to the case, which included the return of $211,000 to the ATO. As part of the investigation, the ATO also worked with the Australian Federal Police to execute search warrants and recover $815,000 using the Proceeds of Crime Act.
In sentencing Mr Stamatopoulos, Judge Michael Bowden described the offending as a serious offence with large amounts of money involved. The Judge also outlined the case as systematic fraud which persisted for a number of years and was motivated by the desire to be seen as successful.
Judge Bowden also handed down a reparation order to the Commonwealth in the amount of $884,664.97.
The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
ATO Deputy Commissioner Will Day said the ATO will pursue and bring to justice those that commit any kind of tax fraud.
“When anyone claims more than they should, they are depriving the Australian community of vital funding. Fraud of this magnitude is very damaging to the Commonwealth and honest taxpayers,” Mr Day said.
If you suspect or are aware of anyone who is fraudulently claiming tax refunds, you can confidentially report it online anytime or by calling 1800 060 062.
Mr Stamatopolous' appeal was heard by the WA Court of Appeal on 9 May 2018. The Appeal Court had handed down its decision in this matter on 29 August 2018, refusing leave and dismissing the sentence appeal.
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