Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Prison term for tax fraud sends strong message

Inland Revenue
Te Tari Taake

MEDIA RELEASE

2 December 2003

Prison term for tax fraud sends strong message

Some 800 taxpayers from Auckland, Tauranga, Whakatane, Rotorua, Hamilton, Foxton, Shannon, Levin and Palmerston North were caught up in massive tax fraud – and one of Inland Revenue’s biggest investigations of its type.

Inland Revenue said the five-year prison term handed down today to the fraudster confirms how seriously the courts view attempts to defraud the tax system.

Loraine (subs: correct) Elliott, of Inland Revenue, said the tax defrauded should have gone into New Zealand’s revenue base to fund government spending, including community services, hospitals and schools.

“Tax fraud is not a victimless crime – it is short-changing each and every taxpayer in New Zealand,” said Ms Elliott, Auckland Service Centre Manage, Manukau.

Manukau Inland Revenue staff spent two and a half years investigating the $1.8million fraud and had the defendant extradited from Sydney.

Ms Elliott said the fraud came to light when sharp-eyed investigators in Tauranga noticed large numbers of people were filing returns for previous years, claiming rebates for child care and donations.

As it became clear that the fraud had caught up people across the North Island – the investigation team grew. A dozen investigators, working in three teams, completed the case, which culminated in 376 tax charges being laid.

Peter Charles Hirawani , 52, was convicted in the Manukau District Court last month on 369 charges of fraudulently claiming tax rebates. (Seven charges were dropped after the trial). He was sentenced today to five years on each charge to be served concurrently.

Hirawani had claimed fraudulent rebates on behalf of clients for donations made to charity, childcare costs and fees paid to him. Hirawani then took a 15% fee.

In this particular case, not only had Mr Hirawani defrauded Inland Revenue, he had breached the trust of taxpayers whose tax returns he prepared.

“The tax system relies on self-reporting and honesty. Today’s sentencing sends a strong message that there are serious consequences for those who attempt tax fraud.

“….and it’s not a case of if they get caught … it’s when they are caught,” said Ms Elliott.

Ms Elliott said the case was significant for Inland Revenue. “It’s the biggest rebate fraud case we’ve had, it involved many individual taxpayers, and there were 100 witnesses called. It’s a major step for us to extradite someone, and our computer forensic unit helped to produce crucial evidence.”

“The professionalism, commitment, persistence and hard work of our staff played a vital role,” said Ms Elliott. “They were superb.”

She said identifying and investigating tax fraud was a high priority for Inland Revenue investigators.

“We owe it to all those honest taxpayers who do pay their fair share of tax to make sure that people who attempt to rip off the system are brought to account.”

Inland Revenue is always willing to talk to people about their tax affairs, said Ms Elliott. Individuals or businesses who want to put their tax affairs right have the opportunity to make a voluntary disclosure, and should contact their local Inland Revenue office.

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Stats NZ: Consents For New Homes At All-Time High

A record 41,028 new homes have been consented in the year ended March 2021, Stats NZ said today. The previous record for the annual number of new homes consented was 40,025 in the year ended February 1974. “Within 10 years the number of new homes ... More>>

Stats NZ: Unemployment Declines As Underutilisation Rises

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 4.7 percent in the March 2021 quarter, continuing to fall from its recent peak of 5.2 percent in the September 2020 quarter but remaining high compared with recent years, Stats NZ said today. ... More>>

ALSO:

Digitl: The Story Behind Vodafone’s FibreX Court Ruling

Vodafone’s FibreX service was in the news this week. What is the story behind the Fair Trading Act court case? More>>

Reserve Bank: Concerned About New Zealand's Rising House Prices

New Zealand house prices have risen significantly in the past 12 months. This has raised concerns at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Putea Matua about the risk this poses to financial stability. Central banks responded swiftly to the global ... More>>

Westpac: Announces Strong Financial Result

Westpac New Zealand (Westpac NZ) [i] says a strong half-year financial result has been driven by better than expected economic conditions. Chief Executive David McLean said while the global COVID-19 pandemic was far from over, the financial effect on ... More>>

MYOB: SME Confidence In Economic Performance Still Cautious

New insights from the annual MYOB Business Monitor have shown the SME sector is still cautious about the potential for further economic recovery, with two-in-five (41%) expecting the New Zealand economy to decline this year. The latest research ... More>>