The Age (Australia)
February 29, 2008 - 2:44PM
A Sydney entrepreneur has been bailed on a $5 million surety after appearing in court charged over an alleged multi-million-dollar offshore tax evasion scam and money laundering.
Officers from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Tax Office (ATO) raided premises at Neutral Bay, on Sydney’s lower north shore in Sydney’s CBD yesterday.
Michael John Milne, 52, was charged in Local Central Court on four counts of obtaining financial benefit from deception and one of money laundering involving the sale of $30 million worth of shares.
Milne in 1997 Photo: Peter
The lawyer for the Commonwealth DPP, Dean Jordan, told Central Local court it was alleged Milne sold shares in software services company Admerex through a company that he owned to another group of companies he also controlled. The shares were allegedly undervalued significantly to create a false low tax position, Mr Jordan said.
The shares in the other companies were allegedly then placed in a Dutch institution.
This transaction then related the issue of shares in another software company, Temenos, which was also controlled by Milne, the court heard.
He also said Milne used another company to move the shares to the Netherlands and then "wandered" them "back to Australia”.
The proceeds of the sale of the one million Temenos shares, valued at $30 million were allegedly transferred back to Australia through companies and entities allegedly controlled by Milne. This, Mr Jordan said, gave rise to the charge of money laundering.
The arrest comes as part of nine ongoing investigations conducted under Project Wickenby – Australia’s largest tax fraud investigation.
“This arrest should send a strong message that Australia is an unattractive location for international tax evasion,” AFP special operations manager Paul Jevtovic said in a statement.
“The Australian government is serious about protecting the integrity of the tax system by ensuring all taxpayers contribute their fair share."
Milne’s bail application was not opposed and he was released on condition of entering into a $5 million bond agreement and surrendering all passports. He also has to report to Mosman police twice weekly.
He is scheduled to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on March 18.
If convicted, Milne could be imprisoned for up to 25 years.