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Review finds ATO fraud protections must be toughened

Fraud controls within the Australian Taxation Office must be toughened to avoid cases similar to the Plutus Payroll scandal, a review has found.

Ten people are before the courts for their alleged involvement in stealing an estimated $144 million from the ATO following an investigation by Operation Elbrus that began in September 2016.

Those caught up in the alleged scheme, which involved a syndicate of companies, straw directors and bank accounts, include former ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston.

He was allegedly attempting to gain unauthorised access to ATO files to help his son Adam, who was deep inside the Plutus Payroll scandal.

Mr Cranston is due to go to trial in January.

A review by the Outgoing Inspector-General of Taxation Ali Noroozi tells Ross Greenwood they found no evidence of systemic corruption or fraud.

But the watchdog did make 13 recommendations including periodic reviews of corporate integrity indicators, better staff recruitment processes and mandatory fraud awareness training.

“We do believe that if they are faithfully implemented as a package, they should further bolster the ATO’s system.”

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