Tax fraud conviction

By Country News

A director of a labour hire company has been sentenced to six months’ jail after he was convicted of pay as you go withholding (PAYGW) fraud.

Suleyman Erdogan, 51, of Mildura. was convicted after the Australian Taxation Office found he had failed to remit more than $664000 in PAYGW from his 49 employees to the ATO.

Mr Erdogan also arranged for more than 136 false income tax returns to be lodged on behalf of 49 of his employees.

Many of the tax returns were lodged on behalf of people on working holiday visas using identities of former employees who had departed Australia. In total, $187994 in tax refunds was paid.

As the director of labour hire firm Sunraysia Harvesting Contractors Pty Ltd (Sunraysia), Mr Erdogan offered farm work including fruit pruning, picking and packing services to various locations around Queensland and Western Australia.

The ATO investigation found two shell companies were registered to take on the liability of tax for the employees of Sunraysia with a total of $664711 in PAYGW tax owed to the ATO.

ATO assistant commissioner Peter Vujanic said some people viewed tax crime as victimless.

‘‘Contrary to popular belief, tax crime is not victimless,’’ Mr Vujanic said.

‘‘By deliberately defrauding the tax and super system including claiming a refund you’re not entitled to, you are stealing from the whole community and disadvantaging Australians who do the right thing.’’

Mr Erdogan was charged with two counts of dishonestly causing a loss to the Commonwealth and one charge of dishonestly obtaining a gain from the Commonwealth.

Samantha Toffoletti, a financial services advisor at SMEs R Us Pty Ltd, was charged with helping Mr Erdogan to register the shell corporations and released on an 18-month good behaviour bond.

She was charged with one charge of dishonest use of her position as an employee of SMEs R Us Pty Ltd.