Timothy Charles Pratten found guilty of fraud, hiding millions from the ATO
Fraudster Timothy Charles Pratten has been found guilty on seven counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, in the Supreme Court of NSW in Sydney this week.
Justice Stephen Rothman found Pratten, A 55-year-old insurance broker, failed to properly declare income of more than $5 million between 2003 and 2009 and used an elaborate web of trusts and companies in Australia and Vanuatu to hide a large pot of money — and an opulent lifestyle — from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
The ATO’s Operation Wickenby and the Australian Federal Police uncovered a money trail of ill-gotten gains which included his daughter’s private school fees ($99,230), rent on an exclusive Darling Point property ($192,256) and a 45-foot yacht named Los Lobos ($263,897).
The operation also uncovered Pratten’s four-seater Robinson helicopter ($252,377), which he used to fly to his Hunter Valley farm dubbed “My Idaho” by the insurance broker.
Operation Wickenby was established in 2006 to crackdown on secret offshore tax evasion schemes.
It is the largest tax evasion investigation in Australian history, costing taxpayers $507.7 million to June 30, 2015.
But the ATO said Wickenby had delivered $946.53 million in recouped monies and led to 46 convictions.
Sentencing submissions for Pratten will be heard on October 27 and he faces a possible jail sentence.
Invited to comment on Operation Wickenby’s latest scalp, the ATO said: “We are currently considering the implications of the of the decision and won’t be commenting at this time.”
In September 2010, Fairfax Media reported Pratten had written to the Financial Review denouncing Australians who “unashamedly flaunt their wealth through trusts and other vehicles” and that “our commercial guardians must prosecute mercilessly … and be seen to do so”.