Top Australian tax official caught up in son’s alleged fraud

A luxury car seized by investigatorsImage copyright
Australian Federal Police

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Australian police seized items including cars, houses and cash

One of Australia’s most senior tax officials will be charged with abusing his position after being caught up – possibly unwittingly – in a major fraud conspiracy, police have said.

Michael Cranston, an Australian Tax Office deputy commissioner, has been issued a court attendance notice.

His son, Adam Cranston, is one of nine people charged with defrauding A$165m (£95m; $122m) from the government.

Michael Cranston is not believed to be a conspirator, police said.

“It appears that his son has asked him to access some information potentially,” Australian Federal Police (AFP) deputy commissioner Leanne Close said on Thursday.

The tax official’s son, 30, was arrested on Wednesday along with eight others when police raided 28 homes and businesses in the state of New South Wales.

‘Lavish lifestyles’

Police said the alleged syndicate had prompted one of the biggest white-collar fraud investigations in Australian history.

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Australian Federal Police

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One the nine people arrested over the A$165m fraud investigation

The scheme allegedly operated by offering payroll services to clients who wanted to meet their tax obligations.

Payments were ultimately funnelled into companies run by the conspirators, who siphoned money to fund their own “lavish lifestyles”, police said.

“They were using it to divert the taxpayers’ money into cars, jewellery, cash, motorbikes,” Ms Close said.

Other items seized included 18 houses, 25 cars, two planes, firearms, and vintage wines.

Authorities said Michael Cranston may have unwittingly been involved in his son’s alleged crimes.

Image copyright
Australian Federal Police

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Two planes were seized as part of the police investigation

The arrests were made following an eight-month investigation in co-operation with the tax office.

“What events today demonstrate is that if you are a crook and you are seeking to defraud the taxpayer, we will find you,” said Treasurer Scott Morrison.

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