ATO announces criminal charges against stimulus rorts
Criminal charges are expected soon against those caught trying to deliberately rort the stimulus measures administered by the ATO.
ATO’s compliance program has stopped over 55,000 ineligible applications at the very first stage of the JobKeeper program and delayed $1 billion in payments to more than 75,000 applicants, in order to run further checks.
Speaking before the Senate select committee on COVID-19, the Commissioner of Taxation revealed the ins and outs of the ATO’s compliance program and its successes to date.
Chris Jordan pointed out that out of the 75,000 applicants the Tax Office flagged as needing further checks, an additional 48,000 compliance activities have been undertaken.
“What we see is that most of the small proportion of people who have got something wrong have made an honest mistake, and simply need some assistance from us to help get it right,” Mr Jordan told the committee.
He, however, underlined that the ATO’s response for those trying to deliberately rort the system is very different.
“In those cases, we will bring down the full force of the law. These behaviours include claiming for individuals who are not employees, manipulation of turnover, and false claims where there is no business activity at all,” Mr Jordan said.
At this moment, in relation to potential fraudulent behaviour across all measures administered by the ATO, there are 11 ongoing Serious Financial Crime Taskforce operations being led by the AFP and about 50 matters have been referred for potential ATO-led criminal investigation, with a number of investigations advanced and charges soon expected.
“As these matters are ongoing, I cannot provide any further information at this stage,” Mr Jordan said.
“That being said, there are some investigations already on the public record, and while I can’t comment in too much detail, I can confirm that there are people facing criminal charges as a result of our joint investigations.
“However, I want to stress that decisions to prosecute or impose penalties are serious and not to be taken lightly – we do not rush to judgement on decisions which could severely impact the ongoing viability of a business if we got it wrong.”