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Man who never existed defrauded tax office of $300,000

AFTER going to the effort of creating a false identity, registering with a bank account, and defrauding the tax office out of more than $300,000 Warren Edward Rees kept less than $5000 for himself.

Between December 2003 and June 2004 Rees and alleged co-offender Neal Stanley Lane, 64, his business partner and book keeper, defrauded $323,995.52 in diesel fuel tax rebates.

Rees created a false identity, Warren Ted Johnson, complete with a birth certificate and driver's licence.

He created an account with the Commonwealth Bank, registered with the tax office and bought a diesel vehicle.

He then allegedly provided co-accused Lane, who has pleaded not guilty and will face trial in November, with blank Energy Grants Credit Scheme forms which they claimed the rebate.

Rees pleaded guilty at the Ipswich District Court to 14 counts of fraud.

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The money was placed into Rees' fraudulently created bank account and then distributed. The court heard the vast bulk of the money was transferred to the co-accused, with Rees keeping around $4500 for himself.

An ATO audit detected the discrepancy and they began an investigation into the Warren Johnson identity.

When interviewed by the tax office Rees repeatedly said he didn't know who that person was, and didn't admit his guilt and cooperate until he was charged with the offences.

The court heard while Rees was functionally illiterate and was in a "manipulative" and "exploitative" business relationship, he was fully aware that his actions were illegal.

Defence lawyer Bernard Reilly told the court Rees wanted to start his own trucking company, and jumped at the opportunity when his booker keeper Lane offered to go into business with him.

He then told the court Lane told Rees he was in significant gambling debt and suggested the scheme to help them out.

While Rees only kept a small amount of the money Crown prosecutor Dominique Murphy said as he was in control of the bank account he chose to give most of the money to Lane.

Judge Sarah Bradley said Rees cost the Australian taxpayer a substantial amount of money in the fraud and subsequent investigation.

Judge Bradley sentenced Rees to two years and six months jail, but immediately released on a five year good behaviour bond.

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He was ordered to pay $162,000 in reparations, a 50% share of the defrauded money.

Topics:  neal stanley lane



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