4 July 2018

Australia at the cutting edge of tackling offshore tax crime


Joint media release with
The Hon. Angus Taylor MP
Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security

Australia has taken the next important step in targeting those who seek to commit transnational tax crime by joining a new international tax enforcement alliance.

Representatives from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) were in Montreal last week to sign up to the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement alliance (known as the J5). As well as Australia, membership of the J5 includes Canada, the US, UK and the Netherlands.

The J5 will be focussed on three global tax enforcement initiatives: cybercrime and virtual currencies, enablers of offshore tax crime, and data platforms.

Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer said the J5 will effectively target those who enable and facilitate offshore tax crime and disrupt the serious organised criminal syndicates who evade tax, commit tax fraud and launder the proceeds of their crimes.

“By being a member of the J5, Australia can move beyond sharing data and intelligence, reports and frameworks with international partners.

“Australia will now work directly with those countries in the J5 to tackle common threats and deliver results.”

Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor said that serious financial crime is borderless, with threats located both in Australia and offshore.

“Offshore service providers are playing an increasing role in assisting tax evasion and, in some cases, laundering the proceeds of crime. Offshore cybercriminals are also specialising in targeting Australian financial systems.

“Australia’s participation in the J5 will strengthen our response to offshore threats and technology-enabled financial crime.”

Australia already has a strong track record in working both domestically and with international partners to counter tax evasion and criminality.

Since the disclosure of the data in the Panama Papers in 2016, the Government’s Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (the Taskforce) has completed compliance action for 341 of the higher risk taxpayers, with 134 in progress. This work has resulted in $68 million worth of liabilities being raised and $13 million in cash collected to date. Three individuals are under criminal investigation by the Taskforce. The ATO has also received a further 53 voluntary disclosures of understated income exceeding $40 million.

The Australian Government is also well placed to take action in response to further information released in June 2018, with the ATO continuing to work with the Australian Federal Police, ACIC and AUSTRAC to analyse any information released against their intelligence sources. Where necessary, activity of a serious criminal nature will be referred to the Taskforce for investigation

The ATO and ACIC will continue to keep the Government informed of their action in relation to the J5.