Decade in jail for Australia’s biggest tax fraud
A former Gold Coast property developer has been jailed for more than a decade in the largest prosecuted tax fraud case in Australia’s history.
Glitter Strip businessman Michael Issakidis was sentenced to 10 years and three months in prison by the Supreme Court of New South Wales for his involvement in the landmark tax case.
The punishment comes after Issakidis’s business partner Anthony Dickson was sentenced to 11 years in 2015, later increased to 14 years on appeal.
The pair created a web of false identities and worldwide companies to net themselves around $63 million.
Throughout last year’s lengthy trial, Issakidis refused to answer questions when he was approached by A Current Affair.
Australian Taxation Office Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan warned the punishments for Issakidis and Dickson were a wake-up call to people who devised and promoted tax evasion schemes and never think they would go to jail.
“Our enforcement strategy for dealing with complex financial fraud arrangements is robust and effective. We will continue to successfully uncover significant fraud operations, and bring the perpetrators to justice,” Mr Jordan said in a statement.
During the multi-year investigation, an AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce restrained more than $54 million in assets including a number of luxury cars and yachts.
“This was the largest and one of the most complex investigations into tax fraud in Australia’s history,” Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer said.
The task force found that between 2007 and 2010 the pair created a web of false identities and fake offshore companies to siphon money through the UK, Hong Kong and the UAE.
“The sheer size of the fraud and significant penalties imposed by the judge show that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated,” Ms O’Dwyer said.
Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan described it as wake-up call to lawyers and accounts who think they can get away with devising complicated schemes.
“Just because it’s complex, just because it’s going to take a long time doesn’t mean we’re going to ever give up along the way,” he said.
“People like this have to be brought to account for their illegal activities.”
Since it was set up in 2015 the taskforce has resulted in five people sent to prison, 740 reviews and audits and identified $562 million in liabilities.
Another 30 criminal, civil and intelligence investigations are under way.
“You can run but you can’t hide,” Law Enforcement Minister Angus Taylor warned.
Issakidis and his wife were found unconscious at their Paradise Point home last October after he failed to attend his sentence hearing.
Issakidis later said he was no longer suicidal, saying “we are now in the position where we have to stay alive for each other which is why it is so important we can visit each other”.
Issakidis is expected to apply to be transferred to a Queensland prison on welfare grounds.