Jeff Kennett, Kerry Stokes and Tim Worner

Australia’s biggest tax cheats? Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holding. $3.6 Billion revenue – No tax paid

The publicly listed Seven Group Holdings which is controlled by Kerry Stokes had $3,583,478,772 revenue in the 2014/2015 financial year but paid no tax. That is almost $3.6 billion but they apparently did so badly there was no tax to pay. It wasn’t much better the previous financial year of 2013/2014 when they had $3,975,156,028 in revenue and only paid tax of $16.94 million.

Seven Group Holdings is listed on the stock market and is the parent company of Seven West Media which is also listed on the stock market. Channel Seven has been getting all the media attention of late with the sex, drug and fraud scandal but that is only the tip of the iceberg of an organisation that has corruption written all over it.

Wherever Kerry Stokes goes the term “tax dodger” isn’t far behind starting at least in 1997 when the ABC’s Four Corners broadcast a story on the Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett. The broadcast also covered a shady deal done between Jeff Kennett and Kerry Stokes. “The deal involved the privatisation of the research and development arm of Victoria’s State Electricity Commission. It’s known as the Herman Research Laboratory, or HRL.

There was no tender for the privatisation of HRL and its research. The deal was rushed through on the last day of the financial year in 1994, the details not disclosed. It was finalised by Jeff Kennett, who signed the documentation himself.

“As Kerry Stokes tells it, it began when the Premier rang personally inviting him to invest in Victoria. According to a glowing account by Mr Stokes in his company newsletter, the Premier said, “Just bring your money and come. If there’s any red tape, we’ll cut through it.” It was a complicated deal but, “amazingly” Mr Stokes recalled, “after what seemed like a wave from Mr Kennett’s magic wand, all the complexities disappeared”.”

Jeff Kennett, Kerry Stokes and Tim Worner

Jeff Kennett, Kerry Stokes and Tim Worner – November 2015

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Graeme Pleasance, Managing Director, Herman Research Laboratory:

Q: I take it Kerry Stokes was extremely impressed by the Premier’s role in this?
A: Yes I’ve heard Kerry say that on a couple of occasions. Not quite sure why.

Sally Neighbour: The attraction of the deal — apart from the potentially huge profits — was the fabulous tax benefits.

Under a Federal scheme to promote research and development, the money invested in the HRL research is refundable and tax deductible. Hence the rush to complete the deal by the end of the financial year. Even if the project fails, the investment syndicate led by Mr Stokes company will get back all of its money plus a guaranteed return of between 20 and 30 per cent. This scheme has since been abolished by the Federal Treasurer, who said it had more to do with tax minimisation than genuine research.

Sally Neighbour: What the investors had to pay the state for this goldmine has never been revealed. The government refused to release any details. It even changed the law to make privatisations in the power industry exempt from Freedom of Information. (Click here to read more) (Click here to watch the full Four Corners show)

In June 2015 Kerry Stokes waved his own “magic wand” and had Jeff Kennett appointed as a Director of Seven West Media.

Below is an edited version of the 1997 Four Corners show “Kennett’s Culture”. The edited version focuses on the part of the show about the tax avoidance deal that was done between Kerry Stokes and Jeff Kennett and the return favour Kerry Stokes tried to do for Jeff Kennett. (Click here for slightly longer edited version is in a previous post)

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Tax reports

In December 2016 the Australian Taxation Office released the annual corporate tax transparency report for 2014-2015 which names 1904 large companies and details how much revenue they had and how much tax they paid. It covers:

  • Australian public and foreign-owned companies with an income of $100 million or more, and
  • Australian-owned resident private companies with an income of $200 million or more

This was the second year the report had been released. (Click here to read the 2014/2015 report) and (Click here to read the 2013/2014 report)

Annual reports

Just because you do not pay tax does not mean you’re a tax cheat as there is nothing illegal about minimising your tax. But when you are paying no tax, very little tax or using a Federal scheme to promote research and development to predominantly minimise tax then questions are going to be asked.

I have had a look at the most recent annual report for Seven Group Holdings and to me it shows very little tax being paid over the last five years. Maybe someone with better skills reading balance sheets etc can shed some light on how much tax has been paid in the comment section below. (Click here to read the 2016 annual report)

James Packer

It is well-known that Kerry Stokes is good friends with James Packer. Mr Packer is the major owner of Crown Resorts which is currently being sued for $362 million by the Australian Taxation Office. As I said at the start “Wherever Kerry Stokes goes the term “tax dodger” isn’t far behind

kerry-stokes-and-james-packer

Kerry Stokes and James Packer on board Packer’s boat. Maybe they were discussing tax dodging.

Whether or not Seven Group Holdings are Australia biggest tax cheats is debatable but there is plenty of smoke to suggest that there is major tax dodging going on at the company. And when Jeff Kennett “changed the law to make privatisations in the power industry exempt from Freedom of Information” to conceal his dodgy deal with Kerry Stokes’ private company Australian Capital Equity it is almost an admission that bribery or fraud of some type had taken place.

Add this to the documented allegations of widespread fraud by management at Channel Seven that has been spilling into the media over the last few weeks then one has to wonder who is running Seven Group Holdings. Certainly not its CEO and the Chairman’s son Ryan Stokes.

A lot of attention is starting to focus on the Seven group of companies with allegations of corruption etc and so it should given they are listed on the stockmarket and part of many people’s superannuation funds. Over the next week or so I will start publishing some of the documents that prove the fraud and corruption.

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19 Comments on “Australia’s biggest tax cheats? Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holding. $3.6 Billion revenue – No tax paid”

  1. ohdeah January 15, 2017 at 7:53 am #

    Is anyone honest anymore? Jeff Kennett was a good man – he is not the same anymore – look at his appointment of Gillard to Beyond Blue – and now read what we have said and James Hird’s Father has said about Gillard’s interference into the drug saga at Essendon – got up and spruiked at that time because (as usual) her government was failing. Perhaps this another matter Kennett should look into – fancy putting Gillard on a committee for “suicidal” people – and here we are again, Kennett up to his neck???

    • mr mauricio January 15, 2017 at 8:12 pm #

      Jeff Kennett was never a good man!!! He destroyed Victoria’s hospitals and schools and sold off our electricity generators and networks.Your bias is showing with your slagging of Julia Gillard by contrast!!

      • Paul January 16, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

        The Hospitals were detroying themselves quite efficiently before Kennett arrived. You can thank the comically corrupt ancillary worker unions for that. I was there. Kennett drained the unionized, underworked, overmanned swamp that was making our hospitals non-functional at the time. A lot of thieves and thugs found themselves out of work at that time, and the hospitals still functioned afterwards.

  2. Brett January 15, 2017 at 10:00 am #

    So everyone else is paying tax on wages even under as little as 100k per year, and these a***holes pay no tax on over $3 Billion in revenue per annum. The whole of government is stuffed i.e. The ATO, The Executive Government, ASIC etc. We don’t only require a Royal Commission into the Criminal Banks, but a Royal Commission into the whole of government and its failure to operate in accordance with our Constitution and its discrimination on the people whilst favouring Corporations across a wide range of areas including proportions of tax that must be paid and where that money actually goes when it is paid. With regards too Jeff Kennett, I cant beleive he has done such a thing i.e. Take away transparency and the ability for the people to scrutinise the privatisation of their own power assets that they never wanted to be privatised in the first place. This would have been done to cover up unjust or corrupt activity. There can be no other logical reason for such a policy, not to allow the disclosure of this info to we the people if we request it via an FOI so as to investigate or discover wrong doing. The decision made by him to do this should be seen as unlawful and not in the public interest. Again, an example of Politicians at both State and Federal levels representing and favouring Corporations over we the people in contravention with the Commonwealth Constitution and their Oath of Office.

  3. Moss January 15, 2017 at 11:18 am #

    The behaviour by both these gentlemen is a simple lesson on how to gain power and money by corruption. And if you can legislate to make future discovery impossible, or at least extremely difficult, so much the better. That two people, one enormously wealthy and the other, whose ego equals the other’s wealth can continue to hide this from the public is an outrage.

    • Jonde January 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

      Moss, the title of ‘gentlemen’ should never refer to the two mutant scorpions of whom you commented.

  4. Frank Scargill January 15, 2017 at 11:42 am #

    My super is less than $50,000 per year, yet the ATO requires me to pay tax every quarter (PAYG system) which has to be budgeted for. I am 77 and would like to think that I can live a worry free existence, just for once. Unfortunately our corrupt systems will never leave the likes of me in peace because I am considered no longer productive and an easy target to squeeze. The likes of Stokes and his cronies are obviously a protected species who give easily affordable money to charities to look good, then claim a tax deduction. How comfortable for them is that.

  5. KeithStuartBales January 15, 2017 at 1:02 pm #

    Why were key assets of TVW moved out to Seven Group Holdings? The Perth Entertainment Centre and TVW TuartHukk land assets? Why and who approved? What about the shareholders whom Kerry Stokes doesn’t give a stuff about?
    Wake up Australian Shareholders Association? What are you doing?

  6. Jonde January 15, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

    One of the reasons they win is because the accountants of Stokes & Co are as crooked as Stokes & Co, and as the accountants bend and twist the loop-holes, they out-smart (or nod-wink) the ATO accountants 24/7 ….ad infinitum.

  7. townsvilleblog January 15, 2017 at 2:09 pm #

    Jonde, The LNP have not closed the loop holes in the 3 years they have had to do so, which is why all the cutbacks, including to pensioners, children and families, they will not act, because some of these other 694 foreign owned corporates are donors to the Liberal Party.

    • Jonde January 17, 2017 at 7:56 pm #

      There are more loop-holes created when a government “””tries””” to close them. Highly competent accountants are similar to computer hackers, every computer ‘castle’ has a crack in a wall!

  8. Chris Wood January 15, 2017 at 6:56 pm #

    We definitely need a Federal ICAC and scrutinise every one of these so called politicians and their involvement in every shady deal thats been detrimental to Australian interests!

  9. Roscoe January 15, 2017 at 8:36 pm #

    I`ll have to read MAAL to see what the ATO is doing (or not) about the dodge whereby an overseas parent makes a loan with, say, 20% interest to its Australian subsidiary payable within one year or more which nicely cancels out the Aussie profit for the year or years.

  10. Bill January 15, 2017 at 8:41 pm #

    Kennett makes Eddy O’bied look like a petty thief !

  11. Ned January 16, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

    Good to have the distraction in the media reporting pollies gouging from their ‘entitlement’ trough which surely distracts the public from examining those gouging from the peasant fed, ‘no taxation’, overflowing corporate trough.
    Poor pollies, they have to defend their floor crawling for donation crumbs to be elected, conditioned upon the understanding that they have to ignore the ‘corporate feast’ above.
    Fancy, living under the table and ignoring crooks so as to be bought off with a few crumbs ……….. a cockroach’s life in Canberra.

  12. grumpyoldman22 January 16, 2017 at 8:04 pm #

    Perhaps Stokes and Packer have contrived charity status. the Stokes-Packer Fund for starving Stokes-Packers has a nice ring about it.

  13. Roscoe January 19, 2017 at 10:44 am #

    Read Ovid Demaris ‘Dirty Business’ on how U.S. corporations ran as ‘charitable foundations’ to avoid tax. Hughes Aircraft Corporation, a multi-billion earner, paid US$ 1.00 per year. Bet our smarties have a copy on their bookshelves.

  14. DT January 25, 2017 at 5:01 pm #

    Have you looked into the Rudd Labor licence fee for broadcasters reduction following a visit by PM Rudd to Broome while on his way to Perth?

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