Australian Tax Commissioner accused of abusing his position

1st June 2017

They say it’s not what you know, but who you know. And that was certainly the case for Adam Cranston, son of Michael Cranston – the Australian Taxation Office Deputy Commissioner – who attempted to use his father’s position as a senior official to escape prosecution earlier this year.

Adam Cranston and his sister Lauren – along with seven others – have been arrested over a $165m tax fraud investigation and potentially face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of the fraud offences they’re accused of committing.

Major tax haul

AFP officers seized a fleet of luxury vehicles including 25 racing and vintage cars, along with 18 residential properties, 12 motorbikes, two aircraft, boats, firearms, jewellery, artwork, vintage wines and at least $1m cash located in a safety deposit box. In addition, more than 100 bank accounts and share trading portfolios worth more than $15m were also taken after being suspected of being proceeds of crime.

But where does Michael Cranston come in?

Reports claim that, after being approached by his son after discovering his company’s financial dealings were under scrutiny, he allegedly tried to intimidate fellow ATO colleagues into cutting a deal.  He allegedly spoke to two senior Tax Office employees – who have been suspended without pay – in an attempt to control the damage suggesting whether a deal could be made to settle the fraud investigation and then allegedly attempted to get in touch with investigators involved in the charges.

As acting commissioner of Taxation, Andrew Mills said, “Mr Cranston had…up until this point…held an illustrious career. We do take it extraordinarily seriously and […] it is of concern that a long-standing officer has been alleged to have been involved in this. The people being investigated have been suspended without pay.”

The case highlights that, regardless of your position or connections you have little to no chance of getting away with any tax evasion wherever you’re operating around the globe. After all, if the son of a leading Australian official can’t escape prosecution, it’s unlikely your organisation would be able to escape the authorities’ attention. If you’re at all unsure about your status, or that of the contractors you’re placing, then ensure you partner with a specialist before it’s too late.

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