Rockingham man cops $5500 fine for hiding gambling winnings from ATO

A ROCKINGHAM man with gambling winnings more than $480,000 was fined thousands for causing a loss to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Mark Francis Ford appeared at the Rockingham Magistrates Court on Tuesday where he pleaded guilty to conducting a threshold transaction of $10,000 or more with intent of causing a loss to a Commonwealth entity.

The ATO prosecutor said the offence occurred between October 16 and 24, 2014.

He said Ford bought a $70,400 1971 XY Ford Sedan, including shipping, from Prestige Motor Gallery in NSW.

Ford organised with the dealer to pay by instalments and made six separate cash deposits at four different bank branches.

He also arranged to have the purchase signed in his brother’s name, but his address was given as the shipping address.

Each payment was under $10,000 to avoid detection by the ATO and someone acted on his behalf to make the deposits.

Police detected the offence during a drug search.

At his home, police found the wheels for the car, but the whereabouts of the vehicle is unknown.

Police also uncovered 311 TAB receipts with winnings of up to $50,000, more winnings of $300,000, $30,000 in cash and he had $200,000 in his bank account.

He was not working at the time.

Ford told police his winnings resulted from inside information and strategies.

The prosecutor said it carried a maximum penalty of $10,000 or five years jail.

He said gambling winnings were classed as taxable income if it was conducted as a professional business.

He also pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and a glass smoking pipe with meth on it.

Ford’s lawyer said the facts were admitted and asked for a fine.

He said Ford was not a professional gambler and would be hard to say if Ford was in front or behind in his winnings.

Ford had no prior record for dishonestly offences and had not been working due a work related knee injury from several years earlier.

The ATO prosecutor said it was an unusual case as taxation fraud is usually uncovered through tax office audits.

He said there had been a level of planning and the amount that was not declared – $51,000 – was not an insignificant amount.

Magistrate Vivian Edwards said it was significantly planned and fined him $5500 plus $800 for the drugs and pipe offences.