– The Tax Office has declared war on the top end of town accountants and lawyers who have helped Australians avoid tax by setting up secretive offshore companies and trusts, with its deputy head warning, “I am going to target the facilitators”.
The ATO, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission plan to use the extraordinary powers available under Project Wickenby to focus on the firms, the ATO’s deputy commissioner of serious non-compliance, Greg Williams, said.
“I am a pretty simple bloke, but I don’t wake up in the morning and say, ‘You know what, I am going to restructure my business around a secrecy jurisdiction’,” Mr Williams said. “Someone is putting those ideas into people’s heads.”
The comments come after a massive leak of secret offshore data to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and to tax authorities in the UK, the United States and in Australia.
The data reveals the activities of dozens of accountants, lawyers and financial advisers who have assisted in the establishment of companies in tax havens.
Fairfax Media is not suggesting, however, the firms and individuals identified in the material have acted illegally, as there can be legitimate reasons for the establishment of offshore companies.
On the list are blue-chip companies including Abbott Tout Solicitors, a
ANZ and Blake Dawson Waldron as well as Sydney lawyers Kevin Munro and Rodney Rosenblum. Other legal firms who have been active in tax have such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and the Cook Islands are: Atanaskovic Hartnell, Horwath Corporate Pty Limited and RSM Financial Services – none of which responded to questions from Fairfax Media.
Also mentioned is Donald Junn, the legal adviser to controversial businesswoman Helen Liu. Mr Junn appears in the data assisting a client in Brunei.
The ANZ, which has a large offshore network particularly in the Cook Islands, confirmed it has been required by the ATO to divulge the details of customers with offshore structures.
Ashurst (formerly Blake Dawson Waldron) says it is its clients’ responsibility to ensure they’re meeting their tax obligations.
“Our firm actively advises our clients to comply with all applicable taxation laws and regulations,” spokesman Glenn Taylor said. “Some clients will establish international structures for a wide variety of legitimate business reasons and, on occasion, they seek our help to assist with this.”
But confidential documents reveal that the secrecy of offshore accounts was paramount.
File notes for the late John Anderson, a senior partner with accountancy giant, KPMG, reveal his obsession with secrecy. Because of his position, “he did not want at any stage for there to be a connection between himself and the trust,” a Portcullis TrustNet file note reveals.
Mr Williams blamed accountants and lawyers for making such arrangements possible – Linton Besser & Kate McClymont


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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