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Now the ATO: is there anything not corrupt in Australia?

Now the ATO: is there anything not corrupt in Australia?

Our politicians are largely incompetent, but our bureaucracy seems wholly corrupt!

Adam Cranston is the son of deputy tax commissioner, Michael Cranston, who is now facing a charge of abusing his position as a public official.

How many more headlines must we suffer each day as a new and bigger rort of  taxpayers’ money is discovered. Does it take hundreds of millions before someone, somewhere, discovers such huge amounts are missing? Now the bloody ATO, the bastards that hound you for a dollar. The ABS, the damned ABC, the useless SBS, $3billion worth of broken Navy ships, Muslim schools, and Halal certifiers scamming the public and their coffers. Because of the coverup culture there is only one cure for this terminal cancer in our systems and that is a totally new government willing to ruthlessly purge the bureaucracy and create massive fines and jail terms for transgressors. Now who can that party be?

At least four government agencies have been identified as having links to Plutus Payroll, including the Immigration and Border Protection, Social Services and ­Defence departments and the ABC.

Source: ABC

Tax fraud allegation could undermine trillion dollar investigations, senator says

The arrest of Adam Cranston over an alleged $165 million tax fraud could have serious consequences for the Australian Taxation Office and even the investigation into the Panama Papers, Senator Nick Xenophon says.

Adam Cranston is the son of deputy tax commissioner, Michael Cranston, who is now facing a charge of abusing his position as a public official.

Tax officials said they did not believe Michael Cranston had knowledge of the alleged conspiracy.

Michael Cranston was heavily involved in high-profile fraud investigations such as Operation Wickenby and the follow-up after the release of the Panama Papers.

Labor Senator Doug Cameron is concerned about the fallout for the ATO.

“I think it will have suffered reputational damage,” he said.

“How can you have one of the senior people under investigation and say that it’s not a problem? Of course there is a problem.”

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon agreed.

“To have one of their own implicated in something so serious is a shock,” he told 7.30.

“As shocking as these revelations are, the biggest shockwaves could well be the impact this could have on the Panama Papers investigations, its international implications in what this could mean for a multi-billion dollar tax avoidance investigation, whether this in any way could taint or impede any prosecutions.

“A $165 million alleged fraud pales into insignificance when you consider the trillion dollars that could be at stake with the Panama Papers in terms of alleged tax evasion.”

‘That got the alarm bells ringing’

The alleged fraud centred on a company called Plutus Payroll.

Plutus — named after the classical Greek god of wealth — is a company which helps large organisations pay contractors.

Adam Cranston is a director and secretary of Synep, the company which owns Plutus.

Paul Johnston was an IT contractor in Canberra being paid by Plutus.

“Every month I’d do my hours, I’d get paid, I’d get a pay slip, life went on,” he said.

“Then one night I was working back in the office and I got an email [from Plutus] basically saying ‘we’ve suspended operations’.”

Plutus said this was due to a “commercial dispute” but gave no other explanation.

On May 2, Plutus sent an update email to contractors saying the company was “neither in receivership or administration”.

“We have responsibly decided to suspend business activities due to our commercial dispute which prevents us from making payments,” the email said.

It was on May 5 that Plutus finally acknowledged the full details of their problem.

“Our dispute is with the Australian Taxation Office who believe that Plutus owes the ATO money. Acting in a draconian and unfair manner, the ATO froze Plutus’ bank accounts on 27 April without prior warning or any consultation,” it told contractors by email.

“Plutus unequivocally denies the ATO’s claim and will vigorously fight the matter through the objection process and the courts. Plutus is and always has been rigorously tax compliant.”

Mr Johnston said he should have done “more due diligence” when he signed up with Plutus.

“What I found was my payslip was actually coming from a company that wasn’t Plutus Payroll,” he said. “It’s a different ABN, it’s a different company. That got the alarm bells ringing a little bit.”

He found there was $4,300 in superannuation that was unpaid.

‘We knew there was a problem’

Senator Cameron had already been investigating Plutus, having begun after he was contacted by someone who said they had not been paid.

“We actually knew there was a problem but we didn’t know that while we were picking away at this, I think there were about 290 federal police involved and an investigation,” he told 7.30.

“What we found was contractors had been employed by contracting firms, agencies, those agencies then had contracted out to government agencies and the government agencies were paying through this company.”

How did the case unfold?

Planes, sports cars, and fine wines were just some of the big-ticket items allegedly purchased as part of a major tax-fraud conspiracy. So how did this happen?

He said the profiles of the registered directors seemed unusual.

“Some of the directors had no qualifications to be directors, they were in homes in areas where you wouldn’t expect directors to be living — young people living in Blacktown, and some of the blocks looking like vacant blocks.

“So I’m not surprised that eventually the federal police came on to this as a problem.”

Senator Cameron said many of the contractors affected worked for government agencies.

“A myriad of government agencies [were involved]. ABC was one, the Department of Immigration and Border Security, Social Security, the NDIS, Defence — right across the spectrum of federal government agencies,” he said.

‘We need a federal corruption watchdog’

Senator Xenophon said the alleged fraud raises another concern.

“This highlights the need for a federal ICAC or a federal integrity commission,” he said.

“The fact that just about every state around the country has an ICAC in some form or other yet there’s been resistance at a federal level indicates how weak some of our systems are to deal with these sorts of issues.”

Senator Cameron said all government departments should also take a look at their use of contractors and outsourcing.

“Federal government agencies across the country need to have a look at how they could ever hand out massive contracts without doing due diligence to the companies they’re handing hundreds of millions of dollars of public money over to,” he said.

“I think it’s a waste of money. I think that we should make sure that workers who work for a department are paid by the department.

“I also think that we shouldn’t be relying on companies like this to have coverage for superannuation, for workers’ comp.

“I think there’s a long way to go in this to find out what damage has been done to individuals.”

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Graham Richards 19/05/2017, 7:00 am

    Fraud & theft cases in large corporations, general business, government always starts at the top. Look at Korean president, Brazilian president, Venezuela, Clinton& the Foundation, France & the Presidential candidate.
    Maybe, just maybe there is a reason that the new bank levy does not apply to foreign banks, like Goldman Sachs??

  • Don 19/05/2017, 7:58 am

    Public serpents, public serpents – would not know what day of the week it is and no hope of any one of them nipping this massive fraud case in the bud – and what a father and son act – but tax office officials say dad did not know what was going on – give us a break – public serpents protecting public serpents

    • Bushwanker 19/05/2017, 2:30 pm

      “public serpents protecting public serpents”…….Don, I agree with you however when the chips are down, the ATO deputy commissioners comrades in crime will sing like canaries to protect their own miserable arses. I used to think family court lawyers & used car salesmen were societies low life but it seems public servants are an order of magnitude lower.

  • Spinbuster 19/05/2017, 8:24 am

    This just goes to reinforce one of my pet theories.
    I believe that Australia would be a whole better place if public service tenures were limited wherever possible.
    Three reasons: corruption control, waste control, and performance enhancement.

    Corruption Control.
    If all tenures were say, like the half senate replacement, with enough overlap to ensure workability but enough time cleansing to limit the effect of the old school tie and repayments for debts owed, a lot of the need for “moral” paybacks would disappear.
    Not only that, the dishonest would stand a greater chance of discovery because they would not be able to appoint or shuffle their employees to cover up their misdeeds.
    Fresh faces would owe them nothing.

    Waste Control.
    A good many public servants have never been in private business and have no idea of frugality or expense control. They seem to think money grows on trees.
    Example: I once knew a public servant who told me that he was a given a certain amount to spend each year whether he really needed it or not.
    I was told that if he did not spend the money it would be reduced that next year and he would have to fight for the amount he normally had allocated.
    Thus: tractors would be replaced with only 1000 hours, hole moving and rock painting would occur to maintain staff levels etc.
    A fresh face with business experience would soon put stop to this, especially knowing they had nothing to gain in the longer term because they would not be there in say, 4 years.

    Performance Enhancement.
    Same philosophy for work ethic. Most businessmen I know consider time with the public service or heavily unionised employment a black mark on a resume. Under the current system it would certainly be a point of shame for me.
    I am proud to say the only time I have ever stooped to working for the government was in the army. In my first and only unionized job, (iron ore mines), I was told to slow down because I would set a bad example. (I then went and set a “bad example” at another company and came close to receiving two thirds as much again pay.)
    The best example of a crap work ethic is to trace the steps of a building permit through council with a flow chart, assigning a time frame to each process and then contrast the time with the dollars you paid for the permit.
    Depending on the project it can amount to say, two staff working solidly just for you for two full months, which of course is not the case and totally absurd. So just where does the time/money go?
    I believe that fresh faces from real industry would soon root out bludging routs like this big time.

    There is another reason that has often crossed my mind, especially in times of natural disaster or retrenchments. We (Australia) are/should be just one big family.

    So, why does one member of the house get the nice easy job, say, making the beds, (secure public service) while everyone else has to do the unpleasant work, cleaning the toilets, doing the washing up, chopping the wood, (uncertainty and not so nice work in the private sector.)
    It should be a shared thing so when times are hard everyone gets a fair go at the gravy train.
    The lady, whose job has been made redundant at Holden, in turn, gets her free ride in the public service and the previous public servant learns what it is like to survive in the real world ….and becomes a better citizen because of it.
    No mate, money does not grow on trees and there is no guarantee you will have a job tomorrow.
    Given that a tax “taker”, (public), will at some point be a tax “payer”,(private), I think a whole new very productive culture would quickly develop in the public service, quite possibly with “dramatic changes in voting patterns.”
    It won’t work for all jobs I know, (nurses, cops), but I am pretty sure some of the council positions don’t need rocket scientists.

    I am not sure if it still goes on, but when my old man worked for the railways later in his life, (he thought all his Christmases had come at once, and often talked about the easy ride), he told me that all railway jobs were advertised first in some government gazette before going “outside” if the position could not be filled.

    If this is still happening …thus explains the “perpetuating dickhead.”

  • Lorraine 19/05/2017, 8:33 am

    The left will forgive this little mistake, what is 165 million,,,nothing in the little scheme of things, was he appointed by Julia Gillard she sure knew where all the crooks are, and she put them in jobs . Union men of all stripes are corrupt, it is in built ,in their system

  • Crankykoala 19/05/2017, 10:26 am

    One little consolation the perpetrators of this fraud don’t appear to be of the islamic variety who seem to have mastered the art of ripping off taxpayer money be it through halal or islamic schools or child minding etc.

    • lancer 19/05/2017, 1:36 pm

      We have enough crooks of our own without importing Arab crooks.

  • Ozisceptic 19/05/2017, 2:19 pm

    Have to comment on this.. Now the bloody ATO, the bastards that hound you for a dollar. The ABS, the damned ABC, the useless SBS, $3billion worth of broken Navy ships, Muslim schools, and Halal certifiers scamming the public and their coffers.

    They forget the big ones, eg the HUGE losses on the sham tertiary education schemes, fathered by people with names I associate with curry and corruption. We lost, was it, $2 billion on that one, BUT it could have been all stopped by a lowly Govt employee, even someone in the dept on work experience, who was allowed to make about a dollars worth of ‘lets check a few students, how are they going” phone calls.

  • Bushkid 20/05/2017, 6:50 pm

    Public serpents will always cover for each other, especially against the outsider or the whistleblower in particular. And it seems, the bigger the corruption or the higher rank the offender the more it will be covered up.

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