Aussie firms raided in tax probe

Four prominent Australian firms have been raided by the country’s Crime Commission as part of an investigation into an international tax fraud scheme.

Deacons, Gadens, Abbott Tout and Dibbs Barker Gosling were all served with warrants to surrender files earlier this month. The Australian Crime Commission arrived unannounced at the firms after the matter was referred by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Abbott Tout head of tax Ross Seller, who joined the firm in February this year, has also been linked to the raids at his former firms Gadens and Deacons. An Abbott Tout spokesperson said the raids related to a partner at the firm, but were not linked to any work conducted by the firm itself. Seller remains a partner at Abbott Tout while the investigation is ongoing, the spokesperson added.

Seller has said that he has cooperated fully with the authorities. “I haven’t advised, nor have I been involved in any way with the schemes which have been reported in the media and in the recent ATO press release,” Sellers has said.

Deacons had originally intended to oppose in court the seizure of its documents on the grounds of legal professional privilege, but last week the firm indicated that it was cooperating with the authorities on the matter.

Tax Commissioner Michael Carmondy said in a statement: “It’s important to note that these access visits are being conducted as part of audits of possible breaches of the law. The fact that a visit is undertaken does not mean that a breach has occurred.”