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Former Nuix chair acquitted of tax evasion on appeal

Anthony Castagna’s sentence quashed

The former executive chairperson of Australian security software firm Nuix has been acquitted of tax evasion and money laundering charges.

In August last year Anthony Castagna was sentenced to seven years’ prison, over allegations that he had used a complicated scheme to avoid paying tax on his income while he was a technology consultant for Macquarie Bank.

A jury found that Castagna had failed to correctly declare some $5.7 million of income and bonuses.

The alleged scheme involved payments by the bank to Billbury Ltd, a company controlled by Robert Agius. 

Agius, an accountant and cousin of Castagna who was alleged to be a co-conspirator, was also given a seven-year prison sentence.

In a ruling handed down yesterday and first reported by IT News the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal acquitted the pair.

The duo’s appeal centred on the argument that that judge in the case had erred in directing the jury about how they were to approach the task of determining whether the payments to Billbury were “ordinary income” which had been “derived” by Castagna, the headnote from the appeal court’s judgement states.

The government had trumpeted the 2018 conviction of Castagna and Agius as evidence of a crackdown on financial crime.

“Money laundering and tax evasion have serious repercussions on the Australian economy and we are committed to dismantling these schemes and ensuring those responsible have their day in court,” the then law enforcement and cyber security minister Angus Taylor said at the time.

“This investigation began in 2006 after the Australian Taxation Office and Australian Federal Police dismantled large-scale money laundering and tax evasion schemes based in Vanuatu, in turn leading them to the activities of these two cousins.”