The founder of a company used to swindle the Australian public of more than $100 million has admitted to his involvement in the high-profile tax evasion plot.
Former Plutus Payroll CEO Simon Anquetil pleaded guilty to conspiring to cause loss and dealing with the proceeds of crime before Magistrate Jennifer Atkinson in the Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday morning.
Plutus was contracted by its clients – including government departments – to pay the wages of employees and contractors, and withhold and remit the required “pay as you go” (PAYG) and GST contributions to the Australian Tax Office (ATO), as well as process superannuation contributions.
The ploy involved diverting money by setting up second tier companies run by dummy directors, who were vulnerable people made to appear as the legitimate heads of entities through which illegitimate funds passed.
The second-tier entities then paid the misappropriated funds to other entities controlled by key figures in the plot.
At least $105 million was misappropriated by a group of conspirators connected with the company over a three-year period ending in May 2017.
Former Plutus Payroll general manager Joshua Meredith Kitson was jailed earlier this year for a maximum of 4½ years, with a non-parole period of three years, after a NSW Supreme Court judge found he had played a key role in the plot.
He actively concealed the scheme from the company’s staff and clients, destroyed incriminating records and even threw investigators off by referring them to a dead associate.
Anquetil’s lawyer, Nicholas Hanna, told Ms Atkinson the facts of his client’s case were yet to be agreed upon.
But according to a set of facts tendered to the court for Mr Kitson’s sentencing, Anquetil was a key architect and present from the genesis of the scheme, bringing in Kitson as the “squeaky clean” image of the company, which would appear like “all other payroll services companies” but would be outsourcing its “actual payroll” to a third company.
He told Kitson the subcontracting company would purely be a front, and enable conspirators to profit and keep more of their margin that the subcontracting company would obtain “for doing nothing”.
He said the majority of the profits would lie overseas, with only a “teeny bit” kept in Australia for paperwork.
Anquetil’s other alleged co-conspirators, including lawyer Dev Menon, and siblings Adam and Lauren Cranston, have been committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court.
Earlier this year, former ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston was found not guilty by a NSW District Court jury of misusing his position as a senior public official to pass information on to his son, Adam.
Anquetil refused to comment to reporters as he left the Downing Centre after entering his pleas. He is due to face Supreme Court judge Elizabeth Fullerton on December 6.