Facing the Downing Centre Local Court in June, accountant My Dung Ho, also known as Sarah or Sandra Ho, pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
According to the ATO, the 38-year-old was briefly employed by Sydney firm RJ Chalmers & Co in late 2018, and was found to have secretly lodged amended BAS for three of the firm’s clients and directed tax refunds to her personal bank accounts.
Ms Ho managed to obtain $4,472, and had sought a further $2,880 in refunds before the fraud was uncovered.
A joint ATO and NSW Police Force investigation revealed that Ms Ho had made the first fraudulent amendment just two days after starting work with the firm.
Ms Ho, who has been ordered to repay the $4,472 she fraudulently obtained, has also received a $2,200 fine along with an 18-month community corrections order.
She has also been charged with five other counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception. The matter was due to be heard last Friday but has now been adjourned to 22 October.
The Tax Office said it would not hesitate to prosecute errant advisers, and has reminded practitioners to secure their systems and advise the ATO as soon as they identify or suspect a security breach in their practice.
“Tax and BAS agents, accountants and other trusted advisors have a critical role as intermediaries, contributing to and protecting the integrity of the Australian tax and super systems, and while the majority do the right thing, unfortunately there are some who take advantage of their trusted position for financial benefit,” said an ATO spokesperson.
“The ATO has a strong commitment to protecting honest taxpayers by identifying and prosecuting those who abuse their position of trust by either conspiring with, or against their clients to defraud the tax system.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.