14 Feb 2020
Sitting in the gloom of his housing commission apartment amid a smell of stale cigarettes and motor oil, you would not know Rod Jackson was a director of more than two dozen companies.
Then again, neither would he.
“They’ve really stuck me in the shit, haven’t they?” Mr Jackson croaks with a desperate sort of laugh.
Mr Jackson is what the business world calls a dummy director.
He was living a “transient” lifestyle when, at the insistence of a friend, he agreed to sign a few forms and became the director of a company he had never heard of.
Thumbing through a stack of bankruptcy notices and Express Post envelopes addressed to his flat, he is now learning he has actually been made the director of a dizzying 26 companies.
“Never heard of them. There’s only one I agreed to. I didn’t agree to any more,” he says.
Most of those companies have gone into liquidation, collectively owing more than $2.5 million — leaving Mr Jackson bankrupt.
Mr Jackson is just one in a network of vulnerable Australians who have been exploited in a staggeringly simple scheme that has siphoned tens of millions of dollars from workers, small businesses and you, the taxpayer.
An investigation by Background Briefing has uncovered the ease with which a small group of accountants spent years targeting drug users, homeless people and those down on their luck in order to help clients cheat the tax man and other creditors.
It is a scheme that involves nearly 200 companies across almost every state in the country, and for more than a decade, its architects have been getting away with it.
The revelations expose gaping flaws in our corporate system and raise questions about how the accountants are able to operate in plain sight of the tax office and the corporate regulator, ASIC.
‘It was like having a million dollars’
Jamie Cox was battling drug and alcohol addiction when a man at a truck stop made him an odd proposition: sign on as a company director in exchange for $400 cash.
“It was like having a million dollars,” Mr Cox said.
“The only companies I’ve run is my own private things, like lawn mowing or shit like that. I wouldn’t even call them companies; I’d just call them making money.
“Had it been explained properly, I would definitely not have done it.”
Mr Cox was initially signed up as a director of a trucking company by a Victorian accounting firm called Brown Baldwin, which he was passed on to by the guy at the truck stop.
But Mr Cox soon found he had been made the director of another string of companies, which he swears was done without his knowledge or permission.
By Dan Oakes and Jeremy Story Carter, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 14 February 2020
Read more at ABC News
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