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Inside Australia’s Biggest Ever Tax Fraud Scheme – Part 1 

The Plutus Payroll scheme remains the biggest tax fraud scheme in Australian history, run by the ATO’s former deputy commissioner’s son, Adam Cranston.   

He stole $105 million in taxes with the help of a group of people, including his sister, Lauren Cranston.   

The ATO and police eventually started unfolding the scandal before tapping phones and installing secret recording devices to catch those involved.  

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On today’s Briefing, a two-part episode focuses on the Plutus Payroll scheme, Brenden Hills, a journalist from The Weekend Telegraphy, leads a deep dive to discover some extraordinary details of the case. When did it first start? And How did they do it?  

Mr Hills said the case began in 2014 when Adam bought Plutus Payroll, a legitimate payroll company with clients including government departments and IT businesses.   

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The Plutus Payroll collected gross wages from employers before money that should have gone to the ATO through GST and Pay As You Go (PAYG) tax and was siphoned via “second tier” companies.

They (Plutus) send all the tax money to a layer of second-tier companies, just like shell companies. Instead of paying the money to ATO, they give about 60 per cent to the ATO in the hope that the ATO won’t notice,”

he said.

Mr Hills said the rest of the money was then siphoned off through a series of shell companies or false invoices. The money was paid back to Adam and the people running the tax scheme. 

They use the money to do all sorts of things, like buy houses, develop properties, buy sports cars, and go on expensive holidays.”

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