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Past catches up with former tax agent

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/08/2016 Sophie Boot

A former tax agent who didn't pay his clients' tax to the Inland Revenue Department and falsified 250 GST and income tax returns in order to keep client money has pleaded guilty to fraud charges.

In the Manukau District Court last Friday, Michael McDonald pleaded guilty to four charges of theft by a person in a special relationship, 13 charges of dishonestly using a document, and one charge of false accounting, the Serious Fraud Office, which prosecuted the case, said in a statement.

McDonald became a registered tax agent in 2002. Between 2007 and 2013, he took money from clients to pay their taxes but kept it himself, filed 250 false GST and income tax returns either to get money from Inland Revenue or to keep client funds he wasn't entitled to, and made false entries in one client's financial statements in an attempt to hide his theft.

"There is often a need for investors to rely on experts when dealing with complex financial matters. The handling of client money must be professional and honest," SFO director Julie Read said.

"The SFO will pursue the prosecution of agents who step outside the rules to remind the community that there are serious consequences for this type of offending."

The SFO acknowledged the IRD's assistance in its investigation of McDonald.

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