Bakery entrepreneur sentenced to jail for tax fraud

The owner of a chain of 30 bakeries in Tasmania has been sentenced to one year’s jail after being found guilty of skimming more than $100,000 from his business between 1992 and 1995.

Millionaire Mark Saxby, who owns the Banjo’s Bakery chain, was sentenced in the Supreme Court in Hobart after a long investigation into allegations that he lied to the Australian Taxation Office and forced staff members to do the same.

Saxby’s lawyers, Peter Farris QC, said outside the court his client would appeal against the two counts of defrauding the Commonwealth.

The origins of the case related to Saxby’s decision to sign four “notices of objection” with the ATO, claiming he had declared all his income between 1992 and 1995.

But Justice Alan Bow said Saxby’s “objective when he signed the four notices of objection, and thus committed the crimes of which he has been found guilty was to avoid having to pay to the Commissioner of Taxation the sum of $334,595”.

While the ATO eventually reached a settlement with Saxby for $57,000, in 2006 three of his former staff told the Federal Police they had skimmed about $100,000 for Saxby during the 1990s and then lied to the ATO to protect Saxby. In return, the millionaire entrepreneur had given them money or cars worth at least $20,000 each.

“They were corrupted not just by their cash skimming activities, for which they received small cash payments, but, significantly, by Mr Saxby having successfully bribed them to lie to ATO officers,” Justice Blow said

During the trial, Saxby’s former wife Sandra gave evidence that she taught employees to take $1,000 from the till on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays and then altered daily sales sheets to hide the skimming.

Justice Bow said that while the court heard strong character evidence in Saxby’s favour, he had no choice but to hand down a prison sentence.

“Each of the crimes for which I must sentence him was too serious for anything other than a sentence of actual imprisonment.”

Saxby’s legal team has 14 days to lodge an appeal.

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