ATO criminal investigators

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) investigates major white-collar fraud and tax avoidance. This work is carried out by its criminal investigators.

This article explores the role of criminal investigators within the ATO, looking at their responsibilities and contributions to the Australian legal system.


Investigating white collar crimes

Criminal investigators within the ATO are tasked with investigating major white-collar fraud and excise matters to a criminal standard of proof. This means they are responsible for delving deep into complex financial schemes, tax fraud, and related crimes. Their investigations often lead to prosecutions, and they play a pivotal role in ensuring that alleged offenders face the legal consequences of their actions.

One of the standout qualities of ATO criminal investigators is their ability to apply lateral thinking. They must identify risks and address uncertainties to obtain admissible evidence for inclusion in briefs of evidence. This often involves creative problem-solving and a keen eye for detail, as well as an understanding of the complexities of financial crime.


Liaising with prosecutors and leading complex investigations

ATO criminal investigators do more than just gather evidence. They provide high-level advice on investigation strategies and liaise as ATO representatives with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) regarding the prosecution of alleged offenders. Their expertise and insights are invaluable in shaping the legal proceedings that follow.


The work of the ATO’s criminal investigators

Criminal investigators at the ATO are not limited to a single type of investigation. On any given day, they may undertake a range of diverse tasks:

  • Profiling and intelligence: They develop a holistic view of the significance of identified offending behaviour. This includes determining whether individuals act alone or as part of a larger group and assessing their role within criminal operations.
  • Prepare court documents: Investigators are responsible for preparing court documents, including affidavits and witness statements for internal and external witnesses. These documents are crucial components of the brief of evidence submitted for prosecution.
  • Conduct search warrants: When necessary, ATO criminal investigators collaborate with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to execute search warrants, ensuring the collection of essential evidence.
  • Analyse large volumes of data: Investigations can range from straightforward to highly complex. Investigators may need to analyse extensive data to draw conclusions and present the “story” of the offence in a convincing and clear manner.
  • Work with witnesses: Collaboration with various stakeholders is a common practice. Investigators work with internal and external witnesses, including tax agents, retailers, business partners, employers, and other government agencies, to collect evidence and prepare witness statements.
  • Engage with internal expertise: The ATO has internal units, such as Digital Forensics and the Financial Accounting Unit, which provide specialised support to investigators. Digital Forensics assists in analysing data from seized devices, while the Financial Accounting Unit aids in converting financial data into meaningful information.
  • Prepare referrals: Part of the criminal investigators’ role involves preparing referrals to other government agencies and areas of the ATO for further compliance action. This collaborative approach ensures a comprehensive response to financial crimes.

The work of ATO criminal investigators extends beyond tax-related offences. They collaborate with various agencies, including the Tax Practitioners Board, State and Federal Police, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and ATO audit teams, to ensure compliance with the law and uphold the integrity of Australia’s financial system.


Key takeaways

ATO criminal investigators are essential in tackling white-collar fraud and tax avoidance. They investigate complex financial crimes, offer strategic advice, and lead high-profile cases. Their tasks range from profiling and evidence preparation to data analysis and collaboration with witnesses. They also work closely with other agencies to maintain financial system integrity and enforce compliance with the law.

Nyman Gibson Miralis providex expert advice and representation in cases of alleged white-collar fraud and tax avoidance investigated by the ATO and other law enforcement agencies.

Contact us if you require assistance.