Daughter of Former ATO Deputy Commissioner Found Guilty Over Large-Scale Tax Fraud

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The daughter of a former deputy commissioner of the ATO,  Lauren Cranston, was held responsible for a $105 million tax fraud scheme.

Ms Cranston was arrested alongside her brother Adam Cranston and three other co-conspirators in 2017 as part of the Plutus Payroll scandal.

The jury deliberated on their verdict since April last year and returned a guilty verdict on March 13. She was granted bail until a detention hearing last Tuesday.

Early this month, the jury ruled that Adam Cranston and his co-accused Dev Menon and Jason Onley were all guilty of the large-scale tax fraud accusations.

Hundreds of recorded conversations were presented as evidence to the court during the trial. In a phone exchange from April 2017, her brother Adam Cranston said to Menon: “If it was uncovered, it would be f****n’ Ben Hur man, this is a big size company.” 

Menon replied: “It would be the biggest tax fraud in Australia’s history. Definitely, there is no question. It would be the biggest tax fraud.”

The lengthy trial heard how Plutus Payroll used false accounting to withhold millions of dollars from the Australian Taxation Office. The money was then funnelled into luxury items such as fast cars, planes, and real estate. 

It was also revealed that Adam used his father, Michael Cranston, who held a senior position within the ATO at the time, to check whether or not the tax office was aware of their activities. However, there is no evidence that Michael Cranston was involved.

The scheme was discovered by the joint efforts of the Australian Federal Police and the ATO in 2017 as part of Operation Elbrus

This case sends a strong message that the government is serious about tackling fraudulent activities, and anyone considering participating in a tax scam should think twice before doing so.

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