Saturday, February 09, 2019

Former ATO deputy commissioner in a 'Shakespearean tragedy'

By Angus Thompson
Former Tax Office deputy commissioner Michael Cranston’s long and distinguished career was unblemished until allegations he acted on the wishes of his son led him to become embroiled in a “Shakespearean tragedy”, a trial has heard. Crown prosecutor Peter Neil SC told a NSW District Court jury the 40-year ATO veteran’s "close and affectionate" relationship with his son Adam led him to committing the crimes for which he is now being tried.

“Common sense would tell you that people of good character do sometimes commit criminal offences … it may be the only criminal transgression they make in an otherwise distinguished life,” Mr Neil said during his closing argument.

On a separate occasion Adam asked Mr Cranston to arrange a meeting between a representative of Plutus Payroll and the ATO after orders were obtained freezing the payroll firm’s bank accounts and preventing subcontractors from being paid.

Mr Cranston contacted subordinates in relation to both requests but refutes the charges against him, claiming he was acting within the course of his wide-ranging duties as a senior public official.

He claimed he was trying to quell the media attention surrounding the unpaid contractors by asking an assistant commissioner, Tony Poulakis, to find an auditor connected with the Plutus Payroll case.

Mr Cranston is charged with obtaining information in his capacity at the ATO with the intention of dishonestly obtaining a benefit for his son; and with exercising his influence in his capacity as a deputy commissioner of taxation with the intention of dishonestly obtaining a benefit.
Former ATO deputy commissioner in a 'Shakespearean tragedy'

Dozens of senior tax officers had handled conflicts of interest in the same way that former deputy commissioner Michael Cranston did, a former assistant commissioner told the NSW District Court on Thursday.

"Other officers did exactly what Michael did, they said, 'I can't be part of it, so take it away and do something about it'," said Bruce Collins, who ran the ATO's Technical and Case Leadership team handling complex tax matters until he retired in April 2017.

"In instances when I've had a family contact, I've done exactly the same thing."
Tax officers 'did exactly what Michael did', Cranston trial told

References to the Trial ...source Google ...


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