Another tax cheat in the big house

Another tax cheat in the big house

Following the jailing of a Melbourne reseller for a $1.2 million sales tax fraud on February 9, the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Federal Police yesterday completed a second conviction, this time for $900,000, that sees a second Melbourne man behind bars.

Kyriakos "Gary" Peripetsakis, 25, pleaded guilty last week and was sentenced on Tuesday by Judge Ross of the Melbourne County Court to 16 months in jail.

The sentence includes a minimum term of six months in jail to be followed by a one-year good behaviour bond.

Additionally, Peripetsakis was landed with a pecuniary penalty order of $250,000 with assets being seized including sports cars and a 4WD vehicle.

Having originally denied the offences after first being charged in May 1996, Peripetsakis conceded he had not paid sales tax on computers sold through a company he controlled called Silicon Boss.

In the earlier case, Michael Mihalakis, 34, was found guilty on four charges and sentenced to two years in jail. Mihalakis will serve 10 months in jail before being released on a further two-year good behaviour bond.

The ATO is claiming that as much as $700 million in extra revenue is now flowing to the Commonwealth as a result of sales tax changes last year.

An ATO spokesperson said some 300 more charges are waiting to appear before the courts and that nearly 500 have been laid since the start of 1997. The ATO could not confirm how many of those involved computer resellers.

Meanwhile, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released a statement saying it would be organising an "industry summit" to investigate solutions to the high number of complaints it receives in relation to computer sales.

The ACCC received in excess of 300 calls in the last 12 months.

Previously the NSW Department of Fair Trading conducted its own inquiry into the number of complaints against computer dealers. The Fair Trading report recommended stiffer penalties for misleading advertising and a range of new offences for suspect activities.

Acting ACCC chairman Allan Asher said in the release: "The industry must recognise that it must take responsibility for the problems encountered by consumers and weed out any 'cowboys' ruining the good reputation of a solid industry.

"The summit will identify problems in the industry faced by the consumer, regulators and business sectors involved," the announcement said.

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