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Canberra Today 3°/9° | Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Guilty verdicts for Plutus Payroll fraudsters

Adam Cranston and two co-accused have been found guilty over the Plutus Payroll tax scheme. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

By Miklos Bolza in Sydney

A jury has found three people guilty of tax fraud for their part in the “Ben Hur” schemes.

On Tuesday, after seven weeks of deliberations, jurors found Adam Michael Cranston, Dev Menon and Jason Cornell Onley guilty for their role in the Plutus Payroll scheme which netted more than $105 million that should have gone to the Australian Taxation Office.

Cranston, Menon and Onley are on trial in the NSW Supreme Court, each facing two charges of conspiring to cause a loss to the Commonwealth and conspiring to deal with the proceeds of crime worth more than $1 million.

The jury is still considering their verdicts for two other co-accused, Lauren Cranston and Patrick Willmott, over their alleged roles.

In the trial, which lasted for almost nine months, jurors were told that the financial services group withheld tax from the ATO using a number of second-tier companies.

These fraudulently obtained amounts funded lavish lifestyles featuring fast cars, planes and real estate.

Adam Cranston would use his father Michael Cranston, who was deputy commissioner of the ATO at the time, to find out whether the tax office knew about their scheme, the jury heard.

The five accused denied their guilt, variously pointing the blame at each other and saying they thought the company Plutus, which was named after the Greek god of abundance and wealth, was a legitimate enterprise.

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Ian Meikle, editor

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