– A Melbourne woman accused of laundering criminal proceeds on behalf of the Mokbel drug empire has been served with a $2.6 million tax bill by the Australian Taxation Office.
Irene Meletsis, 46, of Fitzroy, was served with a writ from deputy commissioner of taxation Robert Ravanello in February, after allegedly failing to pay income tax of $1.2 million between 2005 and 2012. The ATO claims she owes a further $1.4 million in penalties and interest.
Ms Meletsis’s husband, Tom Karas, 49, was issued with a $44 million tax bill in 2011 and had assets and bank accounts frozen by the Supreme Court of Victoria.
The tax order is part of a sustained campaign by the ATO and Victoria Police’s Purana Taskforce to target figures with underworld connections and vast unexplained wealth.
Last November, crane company owner and industrial mediator Mick Gatto received a $10 million assessment from the ATO, after a five-year investigation of his business dealings.
Mr Gatto, who is a former business associate of Mr Karas, has claimed his financial affairs were “squeaky clean” and has vowed to challenge the massive tax bill in court.
In April 2012, the ATO placed a freezing order against property, racehorses and luxury cars owned by Toby Khoury, the brother of Mr Gatto’s business partner John Khoury, who shared a La Trobe Street office with Mr Karas.
The ATO was unable to establish the source of $4 million deposited into Mr Khoury’s bank accounts between 2002 and 2009.
The latest ATO action follows police allegations that Ms Meletsis helped her husband launder money launder money on behalf of Horty Mokbel, a convicted drug dealer and brother of Tony Mokbel.
A 2007 affidavit filed by the Purana Taskforce alleged Mr Karas was linked to a “large-scale money laundering operation in an attempt to cover up the extent of monies derived from drug trafficking”.
Mr Karas used the name of a distant relative who lives in Greece to avoid tens of millions of dollars in income tax, according to a senior Tax Office investigator in Supreme Court documents.
Police had previously used proceeds-of-crime laws to seize a share portfolio and other assets from Mr Karas and Ms Meletsis, including $1 million from the sale of racehorse “Pillar of Hercules”, which was purchased by Horty Mokbel in 2006.
Ms Meletsis was also a co-owner of the Metro nightclub in Bourke Street before offloading it for $10 million in 2007.
Mr Karas would not comment when contacted by Fairfax Media – Cameron Houston


About Jumpin' Jack Cash
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