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Jailed accountants fail in Supreme Court

NZN 9/08/2016 Pattrick Smellie

Two Wellington accountants serving prison terms on 110 counts of tax fraud have exhausted the last avenue of appeal against their convictions.

The Supreme Court has rejected the appeal by Barrie Skinner and David Rowley, who had sought to have the court recognise that their personal tax returns between 2006 and 2010 should be deemed to have been correct under the Tax Administration Act.

Some of the 110 charges on which they were convicted included allegations that they had knowingly provided false information to Inland Revenue in their tax returns for those years.

The pair attempted to argue that under the Act, "certain decisions of the Commissioner of Inland Revenue are deemed correct in a court or in any proceedings, including an assessment of income tax".

This could have seen the tax returns in question "deemed correct" by the court. That and other arguments failed in the Court of Appeal, but Skinner and Rowley were granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

But the court's panel of five judges rejected that argument unanimously, holding that the relevant section "does not apply in criminal proceedings".

The pair were jailed for eight-and-a-half years in August 2012 on frauds that netted them some $2 million and involved filing false tax returns on behalf of their clients.

They claimed fake expenses in excess of $9m and were also found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

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