A 33-year-old Thai national, Pornpat Chuensukjit, was sentenced in the New South Wales District Court yesterday to three years’ jail after being convicted of three counts of refund fraud.
The conviction comes after a two-year joint investigation between the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Taxation Office which led to Chuensukjit’s arrest in 2014 along with her co-accused, Kritsakul Thavapitak. Thavapitak was sentenced in the New South Wales District Court in November last year to two years’ jail.
Over a two month period in 2010, Chuensukjit deceived three registered tax agents to lodge a total of 217 income tax returns with the ATO on behalf of unsuspecting taxpayers. During this time the pair claimed a total of $1.335 million in fraudulent tax refunds.
Thavapitak provided forged documents which were accepted by the tax agents as genuine. The refunds were either moved by Thavapitak to other accounts or withdrawn as cash.
ATO investigations proved that the taxpayers were not employed as reported in the returns.
His Honour Judge P R Zahra SC said that taxpayers cannot be allowed to defraud the Commonwealth believing that detection only leads to a requirement to pay back the money.
“The offender and others within the enterprise took advantage of the ATO processes of self-assessment which reposes on those submitting returns a heavy duty of honesty,” Judge Zahra said.
“Offences of this kind are a burden on the community as they diminish the funds available for the maintenance of important community services. Dishonest claims increase the burden on the honest taxpayer in order that a level of revenue is maintained for good government.”
ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston said that the ATO takes all forms of tax crime very seriously.
“Refund fraud cheats the whole community and takes money out of the pockets of Australians who do the right thing,” Mr Cranston said.
“We have a range of controls and systems in place to detect potential refund fraud and will pursue those who engage in this kind of criminal behaviour.”
If you are aware of fraudulent behaviour in our community you can report it confidentially at ato.gov.au/reportaconcern or call 1800 060 062.
For more information on recent tax crime prosecutions, visit the website.