Accountants at centre of multi-million-dollar ‘dummy director’ scam shut down
26 Mar 2020

An accounting firm at the centre of a massive tax avoidance scheme which exploited homeless and drug-addicted people has had its registration cancelled in the wake of an ABC investigation.

Last month the ABC revealed a group of Victorian accountants were using people addicted to drugs and alcohol, the homeless and other vulnerable Australians as “dummy directors” of companies in order to shield the real directors from the tax office and other creditors.

One man, Rodney Jackson, was the director of 26 companies despite living in a housing commission flat in Melbourne’s inner suburbs.

He was unaware of his directorships until he was informed by the ABC.

The accounting firm, Brown Baldwin, had offices in Shepparton and the Melbourne suburb of Northcote.

After the tax office carried out raids on a number of properties linked to Brown Baldwin in 2018, the accounting firm shut down and rebadged as Auswide Tax and Accounting in the nearby suburb of Fairfield.

Both Brown Baldwin and Auswide Tax and Accounting were linked to a parent company called The Associates Vic Pty Ltd.

Following the ABC’s story last month, the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) cancelled the registration of The Associates Vic Pty Ltd and a number of individual accountants linked to the firm who had worked at Brown Baldwin.

Accountants failed to ‘act honestly with integrity’

The TPB cited a number of breaches of duties in its code of professional conduct, including obligations to “act honestly with integrity”, “comply with taxation laws in conduct of personal affairs”, act in “the best interests of your client”, ensure that the “tax agent service is provided competently” and “not knowingly obstruct proper administration of taxation laws”.

The TPB also cancelled the tax practitioner registrations of Andrew Locantro, Biren Shah and Rajinder Narula, all of whom were accountants at Brown Baldwin.

By Dan Oakes, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 26 March 2020

Read more at ABC News

Photo (cropped and edited): Thomas Quine [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

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