The fourth person involved with the fraud investigation of payroll management service company Plutus Payroll has been sentenced to four years’ jail time.
Devyn Hammond was sentenced on 10 July to four years in jail, with a non-parole period of two years and six months, after pleading guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth and conspiring to deal with proceeds of crime in excess of $1 million.
The sentencing is the fourth connected to Operation Elbrus, an investigation into Plutus Payroll, which allegedly saw a syndicate defraud the Australian government a total of $165 million through payroll services companies to divert pay-as-you-go withholding tax and goods and services tax owed to the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
Hundreds of IT contractors around the country were without wages for weeks after the company’s accounts were frozen by the ATO in April 2017. A month later, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) named Plutus Payroll as the company allegedly at the centre of the operation and the ATO stepped in to help the affected IT contractors.
The operation is the focus of the ATO-led joint-agency Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, with its chief Will Day welcoming the sentencing of Hammond.
“These outcomes show the commitment of the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce in bringing the most serious offenders of financial crime to account,” Day said.
“This was part of an elaborate and complicated scheme, but our sophisticated approach, combining intelligence and specialist powers of taskforce agencies, means tax criminals will come unstuck.
“Tax crime affects everyone. This particular fraud has ripped off innocent creditors and deprived the public of valuable funds that could otherwise be used to fund essential services.”
The three previous sentences included former general manager of Plutus Payroll Joshua Kitson, Aaron Paul and Paul O’Leary, who were previously sentenced to four years and six months, three years and two years and three months, respectively. Like Hammond, all three entered guilty pleas.
In addition, there are 12 more people charged under the investigation and are yet to be sentenced.
Kirsty Schofield, AFP commander investigations eastern command, said the fourth sentencing was another step for Operation Elbrus investigators.
“Their commitment to this matter is stretching into its fourth year, but there is still a great deal of work to go in support of the remaining matters before the courts,” she said.
“Tax fraud takes money away from essential community services and leaves everyday taxpayers to pick up the bill.”
“It’s not a victimless crime – it impacts every single Australian who wants to do the right thing.”