A Perth accountant who lodged tax returns for clients without their permission has been sentenced to four years in jail for tax fraud.
The Perth District Court convicted the 33-year-old accountant of trying to obtain over $250,000 from clients and the ATO.
An employee of Finkelstein Hickmott, it was alleged the accountant lodged 21 tax returns without client permission in 2016-17.
It was also alleged he accessed the credit account balances of four clients, resulting in the “wrongful payment of tax refunds” into his own account.
The fraud spilled over to the ATO when the accountant tried to lodge an unauthorised Business Activity Statement to obtain further funds from the tax office, sparking an audit.
“Busted altering the bank account details of his clients to divert ATO refunds to his personal bank account details without his clients’ knowledge,” was how the ATO described the crime in its release.
“Tax and BAS agents, accountants and other trusted advisors have a critical role as intermediaries, conduits and influencers of behaviour in the tax and superannuation system,” assistant commissioner Tim Roach said in a statement.
“We welcome this sentence handed down today and we will continue to work with tax professionals to ensure the integrity of the system and to protect honest tax professionals and the community from these types of crimes.”
The accountant isn’t the first practitioner to be sentenced to jail for fraud in recent weeks, as cases of this nature continue to draw a line under dodgy behaviour in the sector.
David Hickmott, director of Finkelstein Hickmott, said his firm co-operated fully with the ATO and the Federal Police throughout the investigation.
“The sentence handed out last Thursday serves as a penalty for the crimes committed but also as a deterrent for others in the financial services,” he said.