All businesses are at risk from costly cybercrime.
All businesses are at risk from costly cybercrime.

ATO net closing in on international firm

A GLOBAL financial institution operating in Australia is the target of a major international tax evasion probe.

Speaking from Washington, where Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) leaders met this week, Australian Taxation Office deputy commissioner Will Day told the Herald Sun the investigation was among a dozen involving the nation's tax authorities.

The J5 alliance was formed last year to combat organised financial crime across national boundaries.

It involves the ATO, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Canada Revenue Agency, the Dutch Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service, the UK's Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, and the Internal Revenue ­Service Criminal Investigation, also based in the UK.

Mr Day also said he believed cyber criminals posed "a significant threat" to Australia, particularly with the emergence of illicit cryptocurrency.

Mr Day said authorities were closing in on a major Australia-linked global institution and its intermediaries who helped taxpayers to hide their income or assets.

"These include lawyers, ­accountants, wealth managers and advisers they have helped to set up these structures," he said.

 

The ATO is involved in a dozen major investigations, including cases of money laundering. Picture: Supplied
The ATO is involved in a dozen major investigations, including cases of money laundering. Picture: Supplied

 

The ATO is involved in about a dozen of the 50 major investigations being conducted by J5.

These include cases of money laundering and the smuggling of illicit assets.

"The sort of behaviour we are dealing with is extremely complex and deliberate tax evasion that traverses not just one country but many other countries," Mr Day said.

"There have been hundreds of information exchanges across the J5 in the past 12 months.

"We are on track to have something to say on some very important matters in the next six months or so."

Mr Day said cyber attacks on the Australian tax and superannuation system had emerged as a key focus.

The ATO was investing in its technical ability to investigate cyber attacks.

"We are looking heavily at the use of cryptocurrency and the dark web to facilitate tax evasion," he said.

"It's an evolving situation."

Mr Day said there was "great commonality" between cyber crime and traditional organised crime figures.

"These are the same facilitators that are helping with drugs and other illegal proceeds of crime," he said.

"This is not a victimless crime. It threatens the very fabric of our economy."

aneeka.simonis@news.com.au