Australia’s largest ever tax fraud case – worth $135 million – has come to an end with the final culprit sentenced to more than 10 years behind bars.
In the Supreme Court of NSW, Michael Issakidis was sentenced to a jail term of 10 years and three months for his role in an elaborate scheme that avoided $135 million in corporate tax. As a direct result of the fraud by Issakidis and his co-conspirator Anthony Dickson, the pair took home fees worth $63 million.
Dickson was already sentenced in 2015 for his role in the scheme, when he was handed an 11-year jail term, that was increased by a further three years on appeal. Dickson’s sentence is the longest ever given to someone found guilty of tax fraud and money laundering.
“The significant sentences handed down to both Issakidis and Dickson bring to a conclusion the multi-year fraud investigation by the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce involving members from the ATO and the AFP,” the ATO’s commissioner of taxation, Chris Jordan, said in a statement.
“The pair created a web of false identities to aid their deception and siphoned money through the UK, Hong Kong and the UAE via fake domestic and international companies to fund their lavish lifestyles, netting them approximately $63 million.”
The ATO added that the sentences to both men are a warning not just to individuals who cheat on their own taxes, but to lawyers, accountants and other agents who commit fraud using client funds.
Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer, said the size of the sentences handed down in court demonstrated that “this type of behaviour will not be tolerated”.
According to Ms O’Dwyer, the disgraced pair operated their fraudulent scheme between 2007 and 2010 while they were directors of NeuMedix Health Australasia, where they claimed depreciation expenses on offshore purchases of intellectual property.
However the court found that the owners of these IP holders were in fact companies controlled by Issakidis and Dickson. The deceptions were hidden through a string of false identities and funds siphoned through the UK, UAE and Hong Kong.
Commenting on the landmark legal case, AFP deputy commissioner of operations, Leanne Close, said that more than $54 million in assets had been seized as a result of the investigation, including real estate, yachts and a number of luxury cars. Among the confiscated vehicles are multiple Rolls Royces, a Lamborghini and an Aston Martin.
“Tax fraud is often complex but, essentially, it can be described as theft. Evading Australian tax obligations directly disadvantages the Australian community. Money raised through tax is used for critical services and infrastructure to benefit a large number of law-abiding taxpayers,” said Ms Close.
“The AFP and its partners continuously work to preserve the integrity of the Australian economy. The success of this investigation serves as a warning to those who seek to exploit public funds for their private gains.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.