I have long been concerned by the ATO engaging in data sharing with foreign governments – after all, we can’t be sure that foreigners have the same levels of privacy protections that we do. Any data shared with a foreign government could very easily end up in the hands of criminals.
Sorry foreigners – that was a jingoistic attitude. From The Australian:
Australian Taxation Office Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston has been issued with a notice to attend court for allegedly abusing his position as a public officer in relation to his son Adam’s alleged involvement in a $165m tax fraud syndicate.
Nine people have been arrested and charged in connection with a sophisticated syndicate that allegedly stole $165m from the Commonwealth, in what AFP is calling one of the most significant white collar organised crime operations in history.
The Financial Review are a bit more forthcoming as to the actual allegations:
Mr Cranston, the man who leads the Tax Office audits of the country’s richest people and private groups, was said to be “shocked” when he was informed on Wednesday of the $165 million fraud alleged by the federal police.
Mr Cranston, 58, will appear in court on June 13 and will be charged for allegedly publicly abusing his position as a public officer by accessing Tax Office records requested by his son, Adam.
“It appears that his son has asked him to access some information potentially,” Australian Federal Police officer Leanne Close told reporters on Thursday.
Three other ATO officials are being investigated for a “code of conduct” breach.
Two points – these are allegations at this time and the matter is before the courts. All the media reports indicate that Michael Cranston does not seem to be involved in the fraudulent behaviour itself.
This is an astonishing breech of taxpayer confidentiality by the ATO itself. That taxpayer details are so insecure that they can be passed on to anyone – let alone criminals – suggests that their internal processes are in need of external review.
Update II: In the thread the question of the ATOs social licence to continue operating has been raised – somewhat tongue in cheek. But there are real questions to be answered.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended the integrity of government agencies after Michael Cranston was issued with a the notice to attend court, writes Primrose Riordan.
Mr Turnbull was grilled on whether it was a failing of processes and integrity measures in the public service.
Mr Turnbull simply said it was a credit to the federal police and the government was “ever vigilant” about possible issues of corruption and abuse of office.
Yes, well. What else could he possibly say? In the fullness of time, however, I expect an explanation as to how the extensive paper trail and the tally of money received, against the money owed, and the money declared by companies and then also separately reported by individual taxpayers on the group certificates all deviated without anyone noticing until some $165 million had been defrauded. Yet another ATO internal process that needs reviewing.