The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution’s (CDPP) Commercial, Financial and Corruption Practice Group (the “Practice Group”) prosecutes serious financial and white collar crimes with a focus on offences involving corporations, financial markets and services, large-scale tax fraud, and bribery and corruption of Commonwealth and foreign officials.
In its Annual Report 2017-18, the CDPP provides some insight into how the Practice Group conducts its investigations, and provides some recent high profile case examples.
Who refers cases to the CDPP?
In 2017-18, most referrals to the Practice Group came from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (64%), followed by the Australian Federal Police (16%), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (14%) and the Australian Taxation Office (3%).
What trends have been observed in recent prosecutions?
- Referrals relating to cartel offences from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have increased significantly.
- Foreign bribery prosecutions have continued to be a focus.
- The group is continuing to prosecute international tax evasion cases arising from Project Wickenby, which ended in June 2015.
What are some recent case examples?
Tax fraud and money laundering case study
Michael Issakidis and Anthony Dickson were directors of a company that supposedly purchased and invested in medical technologies from a Cayman Islands company, with the funds partly provided by a Samoan financier. The technologies were valued by a supposedly independent valuer.
The court found, however, that all of these entities were set up and controlled by Dickson and Issakidis. The inflated valuations of the technologies then allowed the pair to claim massive tax deductions based on the depreciation of their value over time.
The pair created a web of false identities and engaged in international money laundering to fund their lavish lifestyles.
This case involved a six-year court case and fraud investigation.
Proceeds of crime including luxury cars, boats and properties were seized after the pair were arrested in April 2012.
Issakidis was sentenced to 10 years and three months’ jail. His sentence was upheld by the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal in 2019.
Dickson, who in 2015 was sentenced to 11 years’ jail, later had his sentence increased to 14 years on appeal. It marked the longest ever jail time for a tax fraud and money laundering matter.
Bribery of a foreign public official case study
Ibrahim Elomar and Mamdouh Elomar were directors of Lifese, an Australian-based engineering company involved in construction and infrastructure projects in Australia and overseas.
In an attempt to secure Iraqi government project work valued at $450 million, Ibrahim and Mamdouh Elomar authorised co-accused John Jousif to remit over $1 million to an Iraqi based co-conspirator, in order to bribe local government officials who were involved in approving the project work.
The Court sentenced each of the three accused to four years’ imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of two years. On appeal, Ibrahim and Mamdouh Elomar’s sentences were reduced to three years and four months with a non-parole period of one year and eight months. Both were issued a $250,000 fine which remained unchanged.