The Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT), through a joint international investigation, says more than 300 Australians have funds with Swiss banks that are alleged to have promoted and facilitated tax evasion schemes.
The Australians had parked the money in unnamed numbered accounts with a Swiss bank..
“The fact that these accounts are unnamed means that by their very nature they are likely to have been established to hide the identity of the owner,” revenue and financial services minister Kelly O’Dwyer said in a statement.
“Taskforce agencies are working through their intelligence to determine the taxpayers in this group who have done the right thing, and those who have been concealing the true nature of their tax affairs.”
All this was part of an international investigation which had seen search warrants and arrests by authorities in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and France.
On Friday, Credit Suisse offices were raided in five different countries in a co-ordinated operation targeting tens of thousands of accounts.
Dutch authorities arrested two people. They also seized a gold bar, paintings and jewellery.
The sheer volume of data and its international scope makes this an exceptional case,” Thierry Boitelle, a lawyer with Bonnard Lawson in Geneva told Bloomberg,
Credit Suisse is Switzerland’s second-biggest bank. It said it was cooperating with authorities.
British tax authorities say they had opened a criminal investigation into suspected tax evasion and money laundering.
According to Ms O’Dwyer, the SFCT will interview bank employees, taxpayers and lawyers as part of its investigation into whether Australians identified in the data failed to comply with their tax obligations or were involved in criminal activity.
The task force identified 346 Australians holding accounts and 23 of them had already come forward under the ATO’s Project DO IT or had been previously subject to ATO compliance action.
“Unfortunately, there are still those who believe they can dodge from their tax obligations and avoid detection by government agencies,” Ms O’Dwyer said.
“As revenue authorities continue to gather and share intelligence in the coming weeks, they expect to move quickly to pinpoint those people who’ve deliberately promoted or willingly participated in these schemes.”