Archive for June 2019

The Australian Taxation Office is aware investigative journalists are scrutinising the clients of Bermuda-based law firm Appleby, and are bracing themselves for what may be a second Panama Papers-style leak.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has approached the firm with allegations of wrongdoing, which the firm strongly denies. The firm admitted that some client data had been stolen in a cyber attack last year.

The Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, which includes major government agencies including the Australian Taxation Office, has since July 2015 raised more than $400 million in liabilities from 614 audits and reviews and collected more than $164 million in cash collections.

In the past financial year, it raised more than $258 million in liabilities and collected $126 million in cash.

One of the taskforce’s most high-profile investigations into the first Panama Papers leaks – 11.5 million documents were leaked from law firm Mossack Fonseca – identified 1200 Australians of interest.

The ATO told Senate Estimates it raised about $50 million worth of liabilities from this investigation, and a further $40 million worth of income would now being counted.

About 600 of those had already either come forward through the ATO’s 2014 tax amnesty known as Project Do It.

The ATO has previously told Fairfax Media that Australian tax advisers and their wealthy clients with links to the Panama Papers may be hit with criminal charges.

Deputy Commissioner Mark Konza told Senate Estimates he was aware of media reports indicating another big leak was coming.

“We have been aware of an issue regarding this firm,” he said. “We understand that it’s in regard to services provided by that law firm to taxpayers.

“… From the bare details that we have, that it might be similar to the Panama Papers where tax structuring has been exposed.”

In 2016-17, the ATO also took part in a joint international investigation into Swiss banking relationship managers, who are alleged to have actively promoted and facilitated tax evasion in Australia.

Its annual report said it had “identified a number of Australians that require further examination in respect of offshore activities”.

The ATO’s private groups and wealthy Australians programs (including high-wealth individuals, trusts and promoters) had more than 520 taxpayers under audit or review. This work raised $834 million in liabilities and $466 million in cash collections in 2016-17.

It also noted that the government’s Phoenix Taskforce, which included the ATO, was moving against illegal phoenix behaviour.

It said its campaign to make the community aware of the problem via media and social media promotions had resulted in a 24 per cent increase in referrals to the Tax Evasion Referral Centre compared with last year, which could lead to future compliance action.

In 2016-17, there had been 680 reviews and audits, resulting in liabilities of $326.8 million and cash collections of $133 million.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

The teenager bashed unconscious at a Halloween party on Sydney’s north shore has woken from a coma and is talking to his family.

The 16-year-old had been left fighting for his life with critical head injuries after being punched to the ground outside a Gladesville party on Saturday night.

Emergency services were called to the Ganora Street home just before 11.30pm following reports that a teenager was unconscious and suffering head injuries.

Detectives had been told an altercation took place between a group of youths outside the home before the teen was punched, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head.

Police attended the Gladesville home on Saturday night. Photo: Supplied/Channel 9

The teen was rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital in a critical condition and was still fighting for his life on Sunday.

But his family said in a statement on Monday that the teen had shown significant signs of improvement.

“We are pleased to announce that our son is now out of a coma and talking,” the statement read.

“As you can imagine, this has been an emotional time for our family and we request the media respect our privacy so that we are able to focus our efforts on being there for our son and help him during this time.

“A big thank you also to the NSW Police Force who are investigating this matter. And to our family, friends and work colleagues who have supported us during this difficult time.”

The party of about 60 teenagers had turned nasty after a number of people, believed to have already been kicked out of another party, turned up uninvited.

A group of young men had fled the scene before police arrived however some of the visitorsremained outside the house as a crime scene was set up.

Halloween masks and beer bottles lay strewn across nature strips and the suburban road as police attempted to calm the situation.

Senior police later made a public appeal for witnesses to come forward.

Ryde detectives continued to interview partygoers on Monday in an attempt to find out what caused the melee and who was responsible for the punch.

It was still unclear on Monday whether the injured man was an invited guest at the Halloween party being hosted by a teenage girl.

The brawl also prompted police to warn would-be party hosts to have adequate supervision.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

The five federal politicians disqualified over their citizenship status collected close to $9 million in taxpayer-funded salaries they were not entitled to.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce accounts for $2.8 million of that money and his former Nationals deputy Fiona Nash $2.6 million. Both first entered parliament in 2005 and have benefited from ministerial bonuses since 2013.

Former Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters were paid $1.8 million and $1.3 million respectively, and One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts collected about $266,000 between the 2016 election and Friday’s High Court verdict.

All up, they collected a total of $8,769,509 in base salary and ministerial bonuses. The figure – based on an analysis of MP pay rates and positions held over the last 13 years – does not include committee bonuses or any allowances.

It also does not include any staff or office costs.

And it comes on top of the price tag of the High Court case itself, which has been estimated to have cost taxpayers up to $3 million given the Commonwealth picked up the tab for half a dozen of the nation’s top silks and their teams.

However none of the five were eligible for the generous parliamentary defined benefits scheme pension because all were elected after 2004.

All five MPs were booted out of Parliament after the court ruled them ineligible because of their dual citizenship. Mr Joyce and Mr Ludlam had New Zealand citizenships, Ms Nash and Mr Roberts British and Ms Waters Canadian.

While the verdict only related to their eligibility at the time of last year’s election, all five inherited their dual citizenship status at birth – meaning all were in fact illegitimately elected for the entirety of their federal political careers.

While the Turnbull government could pursue repayment – at least for the roughly $1.3 million paid out since July 2016 – it is unlikely to do so.

While the Department of Finance is likely to write to the dumped MPs with a bill for salaries, allowances, superannuation and staff payments, they can easily apply to the government for a waiver.

Former Family First senator Bob Day did just that earlier this year after he was disqualified for contravening pecuniary interest elements of the constitution.

Special Minister of State Scott Ryan agreed to the waiver, saying it was “consistent with the outcome in previous similar cases”. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},’#pez_iframeTT’);

That approach would only be likely to change if evidence emerged that an MP had deliberately or knowingly defrauded the taxpayer.

Asked on Monday whether the MPs should pay back any money, acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop said: “That would be a matter of advice from the Department of Finance and that would be a matter for the Finance Minister.”

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

HANG TIME: Newcastle Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard wins a header during the 1-all draw against Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday. Picture: Jonathan CarrollHow many times have you heard a match described as “a game of two halves”?

Well that old chestnut certainly got a workout at the Jets v Wanderers clash on Sunday, and in the media appraisals post game.

The Wanderers, playing their third game in eight days, were sharper, crisperand more fluent in the opening stanza, and went to the break comfortable, rather than dominant leaders.

The half-time discussion in the stands centred around disrupting the Wanderers flow, the Jets playing forward earlier, asking some questions of the Wanderers’ defence, and a general lift in intensity.

Knowledgeable pundit Andy Harper concurred on Fox Sports coverageand, perhaps more importantly, Jets coach Ernie Merrick saw things in a similar light.

Did the Jets lift? Did the Wanderers drop away? A combination of both?

Did the introduction of Joey Champness turn things around? You’d have to say it did, though to be fair the Wanderers did miss Kearyn Baccus’s midfield authority after he succumbed to illness.

All of that may have contributed to a change in fortunes, but there is no doubt that goals change momentum and matches more than any other factor.

After Dimi Petratos followed up the rebound from Roy O’Donovan’s snapshot, and restored scoreboard parity, there really looked likely to be only one winner.

The Jets started to go around a tiring Wanderers side, particular joy to be found down the visitors left-hand side, where RaúlLlorente at left back was hampered by a cork, picked up in the first half.

In the enda draw was probably a pretty fair reflection of the game. Both sides were perhaps left feeling a tinge of disappointment, but both were pleased to maintain their unbeaten starts to the season.

Given the circumstances of the weekend prior, the injury to Ronny Vargasand the psychological and physical toll that may have taken, and the pedigree of the Wanderers, a draw for the Jets is certainly no disaster.

They will be very eager to provide the fans with a home victory, however, as it has been nearly 12 months since that has happened at McDonald Jones Stadium.

No better time to do that, you might think, than with a home fixture this Saturday night in prime time, against a Wellington Phoenix side whogave up a 3-0lead against Brisbane at home last weekend.

This fixture, however, has traditionally proven to be a bit of a banana-skin game for the Jets, and not one to be complacent about at all, this time around. The two sides played each other in pre-season at Edgeworth not so long ago, and though I am wary of trial form, there were lessons to be learned.

The Jets looked in total control for most of that encounter, but Wellington had a 15-minute period, just after Ben Kantarovski departed his defensive midfield role where they ran amok, with a lively Roy Krishna to the fore.

Jets coach Merrick of course knows all about the qualities of the Fijian flyer, Michael McGlinchey and company, from his time at the Phoenix , and I am sure will be stressing the need for maximum effort and application.

It’s a hackneyed observation, but there really aren’t any easy games in the A league. Just ask Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat at the moment.

Last season’s runners-up are struggling, with two points from four games, but you’d fancy they will pick up the pace when World Cup qualifying commitments, and Besart Berisha’s suspension, end.

Last season’s record-breaking champions Sydney FC have started the season very professionally, winning three of four games, and coming from 0-2 down in the derby, to share the points with the Wanderers.

Surely they will finish top two again?

If I’m honest, I think they are close to a moral to win the premiers plate, but I may know more about that after Friday night’s top-of-the-table clash with the high-flying Melbourne City side.

English coach Warren Joycehas the sky-blue side of Melbourne ticking over nicely, and dare we write it, showing more discipline and desire than has been the case in previous seasons.

They clash at AAMI Park, and your columnist will be there in person,beforemy annual pilgrimage to Derby Day at Flemington, which coincides most handily with what should be a terrific contest.

Having told “Windy”, who had taken the $2.88 about the Wanderers on Sunday, to have a saving bet on the draw at $4.33, not three minutes before the Jets equalised, my confidence is back in a big way (although he ignored my suggestion completely).

So dear friends, and discerning readers, let me give you some advice, not likely to be approved at the Noel Whitaker School of wealth accumulation.

You can currently find odds of $1.90 about Sydney FC to win the minor premiership. Do so now, before Friday (you can always back up at a better price if City beat them), sit back and relax, and almost double your ample investment by May.

If in the unlikely event of a Graham Arnold-coached team losing its way, you will still be right in the running till season’s end, and able to save your stake if necessary.

Money for jam really. All thanks and gratuities can be forwarded to me care of the Herald, and please remember, always gamble responsibly.

Slater & Gordon Chairman John Skippen leaves the company’s AGM in Melbourne. Photo by Jesse Marlow. . Slater & Gordon CEO Andrew Grech talks to investors after the company’s AGM in Melbourne. Photo by Jesse Marlow. .

Slater and Gordon’s long-suffering shareholders will be nearly wiped out in the company’s rescue plan and many will be left with parcels of shares so small they cannot be sold on market.

The dire fate of Slater and Gordon’s shareholders was laid bare in more than 1000 pages of documents filed to the Australian Securities Exchange on Monday.

But despite shareholders facing near wipe out, the deal is a better option than placing the company in administration where the shares will be worth zero, according to an independent expert’s report on the deal by KPMG.

The rescue plan will salvage Slater and Gordon’s Australian business.

The recapitalisation comes after two horror years during which the company has teetered on the brink of insolvency after a $1.3 billion deal in the UK blew up.

After the rescue, current shareholders will only hold 5 per cent of the company’s shares.

Slater and Gordon’s senior lenders led by America’s Anchorage Capital Group will hold the other 95 per cent.

The shares that were once worth $2.8 billion were trading at 6.8 cents on Monday equating to a market capitalisation of $24.2 million.

The rescue plan values Slater and Gordon’s shares at between 0.3 cents or 1.1 cents each, meaning the 351.4 million shares currently on issue will be worth between $1.05 million and $3.87 million.

This compares to the $15.5 million in fees Slater and Gordon’s legal and financial advisers will receive for completing the deal.

About 6.5 billion shares will be issued to the hedge funds holding Slater and Gordon’s $1 billion-plus debt pile. Shares will then be consolidated on 1 for 100 basis.

In return, the hedge funds will forgive swathes of Slater and Gordon’s debts. The lighter debt load will free up the company’s balance sheet which is currently weighed down by finance repayments.

Slater and Gordon chairman John Skippen apologised to shareholders over the deal.

“Regrettably the interests of existing shareholders will be significantly diluted and I and the board are sorry for this,” Mr Skippen.

Slater and Gordon’s former managing director, Andrew Grech, and current executives Hayden Stephens and Ken Fowlie will be impacted by the recapitalisation, with all holding shares in the company. Mr Skippen also owns 100,000 shares and will be diluted through the process.

The recapitalisation will mean that many of Slater and Gordon’s existing shareholders will be left with parcels of shares valued at below $500, making them unmarketable.

Slater and Gordon says it may consider a buyback of these unmarketable parcels after the recapitalisation of the company.

The documents also revealed that Slater and Gordon plans to hive off its deeply troubled UK business into a new entity. The separation of the UK and Australian businesses will insulate Slater and Gordon’s middling local results from the earnings losses in the UK.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.