Michael CranstonAustralian Tax Office - ATO

Former ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston is again involved with alleged tax-dodgers and criminals

Former Australian Tax Office deputy commissioner Michael Cranston, who the ATO says “he failed to act with integrity and honesty”, is again involved with alleged tax-dodgers and criminals after narrowly avoiding jail last year.

In February 2019 Michael Cranston was found not guilty in the NSW District Court of misusing his position at the ATO to benefit his son Adam who has been charged with multi-million-dollar tax fraud. But the SMH reported on the 8/8/20 that once again Michael Cranston is linked to people who have in recent days been charged with a new multi-million-dollar tax fraud scam.

The background

Adam and Lauren Cranston, the adult children of Michael Cranston, were charged in May 2017 for allegedly being involved in a tax evasion scam totalling over $165 million with Adam being one of the two key players who masterminded the fraud. They are still awaiting trial although numerous other people involved have already been jailed or will face trial this year.

It is alleged that Adam and Lauren Cranston were involved in “phoenix operations, whereby companies run up tax liabilities, fail to pay the tax liabilities, and money or assets disappear or are stripped from the companies before the companies are deliberately bankrupted by the proprietors. The same proprietors then establish new but similar companies, and the whole process is repeated, systematically. The bankrupted companies are liquidated, with the intention of leaving creditors and the tax office empty-handed or short-changed.” (Click here to read more)

The allegations against Adam and Lauren Cranston are almost identical to the allegations against George Alex and 12 others who were charged in July 2020 with tax fraud totalling $17.5 million. 

Michael Cranston and Gloria Cranston

Michael Cranston and his wife Gloria Cranston

The SMH report on the 8/8/20 says:

On July 21 the Australian Federal Police arrested a dozen people over the alleged fraud; including Mr Alex’s son Arthur, one of his lieutenants Lindsay Kirschberg, and Caitlin Hall, the wife of jailed crime figure Michael Ibrahim. Ms Hall is before the courts charged with money laundering.

One of the premises raided on that day was a warehouse in Moorebank, which is the headquarters of Permaform International.

On paper, the company is run by Robert Rech, who describes himself as an “energetic and seasoned professional with an entrepreneurial flair” on his LinkedIn profile.

Unfortunately for him, Mr Rech’s entrepreneurial talents have seen him inadvertently embroiled in not one, but two major tax fraud cases. Mr Rech has not been charged in relation to the alleged syndicate.

Permaform’s general manager is Adam Cranston, 31, who is facing his own lengthy legal battle following his arrest over the Plutus Payroll saga. In April this year a Sydney court heard that Permaform International had already contributed $128,000 towards Mr Cranston’s legal fees.

Adam Cranston and his father, then ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston, 61, were both arrested in May 2017. In February 2019 Cranston Snr was found not guilty of improperly using his position in the ATO to help his son.

In September 2019 Michael Cranston went into business with Mr Rech, establishing a company called Cospex. (Click here to read more)

Michael Cranston was charged in 2017 with helping his son and cleared by the courts in February 2019. He claimed his innocence and said he should never have been charged. But now, here he is in 2020 closely connected to his son, and people associated with his son, who were charged a few weeks ago with tax fraud allegations.

So are we to believe that Michael Cranston has been in the wrong place at the wrong time by accident on 2 occasions and both times involving multi-million-dollar tax fraud allegations? As the saying goes where there is smoke there is fire. It says this about Michael Cranston on Wikipedia:

“Michael Cranston was an ATO employee for over 40 years, the last period as Deputy Commissioner for Private Groups and High Wealth Individuals. In this role, he was responsible for tax compliance of private group businesses and High Wealth Individuals. He was also responsible for tax crime including offshore tax evasion, dealing with Project Wickeny and the Panama Papers. Cranston worked on and chaired the OECD Taskforce on Tax Crimes in Paris from 2012 to 2017.” (Click here to read more)

It sounds like Michael Cranston is a bigger criminal and tax cheat than the people he was meant to investigate when he was at the ATO. With the latest developments, the ATO and government should investigate and re-evaluate everything Michael Cranston did at the ATO and any deals he did with tax cheats when he was there.

And the average person wonders why so many large companies pay no tax. 

Michael Cranston now works at Waterhouse Tax Lawyers along with another former ATO Assistant Commissioner Bruce Collins. Given Michael Cranston has been working there since February 2019 why did he need to go into business with Robert Rech?

This story has a long way to go so we will keep following it.

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