31 Oct 2008

Australian Tax Office conducting 80 audits linked to Vanuatu

11:02 am on 31 October 2008

The Australian Taxation Office is conducting 80 audits linked to Vanuatu relating to nearly 60 million US dollars in allegedly false deductions.

The Money Management website reports that the ATO has written to 240 Australians with apparent links to Vanuatu seeking more information on their tax affairs.

The audits are part of the ATO's Project Wickenby, set up to detect, deter and deal with tax haven arrangements.

The operation has so far raised 134 million US dollars in liabilities and restrained over 48 million dollars from the proceeds of criminal activity.

In April 2008, search warrants were executed in Australia, Vanuatu and New Zealand aimed at addressing tax evasion and money laundering linked to Vanuatu.

28 people have been charged and 23 criminal investigations are underway.

So far, three people have been convicted and two more are to face sentencing in the next few weeks.