Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Victorian tax agent obtains financial advantage and steals from clients

Date of Publication: 
15 March 2018

A Victorian-based registered tax agent, Brendan Harty was today sentenced to seven years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of four years and nine months in the County Court of Victoria. Mr Harty pleaded guilty to multiple counts of dishonestly obtaining $912,637.00 and attempting to obtain a further $46,029.00.

Between about October 2013 and August 2016, Mr Harty lodged 161 false tax statements with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) (139 Business Activity Statements (BAS) and 22 Income Tax Returns). These statements were lodged in the names of 31 entities or individuals. On these statements, Mr Harty claimed $875,160.00 in tax refunds to which he was not entitled.

During the same period, Mr Harty also attempted to obtain refunds totalling $46,029.00, and stole $37,477.00 from various clients.

Mr Harty, who ran an accountancy business in Kew, Victoria, would access the ATO portal and redirect payment of the fraudulently obtained refunds to his own bank account, so the client never received it.

In one instance, Mr Harty accessed the Australian Securities and Investments Commission portal and fraudulently appointed himself as a director of his client’s corporate trust, so he could add himself as a signatory to the client’s Commonwealth Bank Account.

The offending was detected when an ATO compliance officer called Mr Harty to review a series of BAS that he had lodged.

CDPP Media contact: communications@cdpp.gov.au or 02 6206 5708.

Charges and sentence:

Brendan Harty was charged with:

  • 10 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception contrary to section 134.2(1) of the Criminal Code.
  • One charge of attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception contrary to section 11.1 and 134.2(1) of the Criminal Code.
  • One charge of obtaining financial advantage contrary to section 82(1) of the Crimes Act (Victoria).

Mr Harty was sentenced to seven years imprisonment with a non-parole period of four years and nine months. He will not become eligible for parole until November 2022.