Accounting and IT outsourcing entrepreneur Arjuna Samarakoon has been sentenced to 29 months imprisonment for defrauding the Australian government of $550,000 while working as a tax professional.
Samarakoon was found to have fraudulently claimed refunds from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Under the research and development (R&D) tax incentive, Samarakoon claimed refunds on two separate occasions in 2013, netting a total value of $549,719 and pocketing $380,000 in the process.
“The R&D tax incentive is designed to encourage Australian businesses to invest in new research and development of technology,” ATO deputy commissioner Will Day said.
“The seriousness of this abuse of the R&D tax incentive by individuals such as Mr Samarakoon has resulted in the serious financial crime task force making its investigation into serious R&D tax incentive abuse a priority for cross-agency action.”
Samarakoon previously ran Melbourne-based accounting and IT outsourcing companies BPO Connect and IT Connect.
A spokesperson at BPO Connect's Melbourne offices told CRN that Samarakoon was not associated with the company.
In February, the ATO and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) released four taxpayer alerts specifically targeting people seeking to exploit the R&D tax incentive program.
According to an ATO statement, the government's multi-agency serious financial crime task force has raised more than $391 million in tax liabilities, completing 587 audits and leading to four convictions.