Ratbag tax dodger Alex Swney likely to spend some time in the pokey

Ratbag tax dodger Alex Swney is likely to be spending some time in the pokey after he pled guilty to ten years of tax evasion.

After months of staunchly maintaining his innocence former Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney phoned his parents on Tuesday night to say he was going to plead guilty to nearly $1.8 million worth of tax evasion.

Swney, who once challenged John Banks in the Auckland mayoralty race, appeared in court yesterday for what was expected to be an administrative hearing looking ahead to trial. However, he entered a surprise guilty plea that leaves him facing up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

The 57-year-old pleaded guilty after the 39 charges laid by the IRD were condensed to four representative counts during what was meant to be an administration hearing. When contacted on Tuesday, Swney said he wasn’t sure what was happening in court the following day.

Butter normally wouldn’t melt in this guys mouth but there is little doubt now that he is a slimy tax dodging ratbag.  

There is more to come on this ratbag too, with a SFO investigation and a private prosecution of him by Heart of the City.

Judge Fraser ordered Swney to surrender his passport, despite defence counsel Murray Gibson saying he was “not a flight risk”.

The judge ordered a pre-sentence report without considering home detention and indicated a term of imprisonment was the only viable outcome at sentencing in April.

Swney staunchly maintained his innocence last year but that changed when the case was pushed forward with new lawyer Murray Gibson and a fresh Crown prosecutor taking over the file.

Heart of the City – a city centre business association registered by Swney in 1994 – has income-tax exemption on the basis that it was created to develop or increase amenities for the Auckland public.

The amended charges cover personal tax evasion of $1,757,147 over 12 years to July 2012. Court documents stated Swney did not provide tax forms or returns over extended periods “and did so intending to evade the assessment of tax”.

The charges also outlined how he committed the offending while acting as an independent contractor to Heart of the City, while sole director of his own company AGS Services Limited.

He provided “taxable supplies” but did not register for GST or provide any returns.

Creditors, including Heart of the City, have taken steps to protect their position in the wake of Swney’s downfall. AGS Services was placed into liquidation on November 14.

Liquidators Colin McCloy and Craig Sanson said in their first report that Swney “was using the company to invoice for the provision of personal consultancy services he provided” to Heart of the City.

McCloy and Sanson’s report said they would conduct a thorough investigation of his actions, but noted all communication with him was being conducted through lawyers.

Last month, Heart of the City’s board announced it had launched civil proceedings against Swney and because of that, refused to comment on yesterday’s developments.

The organisation confirmed an independent investigation had been completed by McGrathNicol and civil proceedings had been launched as a result.

Chairman Terry Gould said they had also obtained interim asset freezing and disclosure orders from the court.

He certainly should be sent down, he deliberately evaded tax for more than 10 years.

I hope IRD now grabs his house so that the taxpayer as prime creditor can get its money back. No doubt he will have used some artifice to protect his assets from recovery of his ill-gotten gains.


– NZ Herald


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  • willtin

    Looks like he’s finally reaping what he had sown. How could anyone argue their way out of the admitted lack of legally required tax commitments?

  • Rodger T

    Usually these guys get sent to some country club down the line with golf course and a private room with computer where they can write their memoirs ,don`t they?
    Tho` it`ll be a cold day in hell when I can muster sympathy for any NZ govt and its Inland Revenue Dept,they have driven enough hardworking Kiwis to early deaths thru their rapacious demands for money,whether it is owed or not.

    • willtin

      From my experience, some personal and some others, of friends; if you are white, middle-aged male, you are completely f*cked if you expect any sympathetic consideration from the so-called Te Tari Taaki. Take, Take, Take, might be a better Motto.

  • Another Middleagedwhiteguy

    Enough mess Auckland is in with LustyLeftyLen as supreme leader of the rates-hungry toy-railway team.

    Just imagine the scale of corruption that would have become institutionalised if the “Swiney” had got in – any corrupt underlings would have had an absolute field-day with the power of a little persuasion (blackmail) up their sleeves.

    • willtin

      Would it be much worse than what Auckland now has? An unbelievable Mayor and a subservient (show me the Money!) Council.

  • PeterPumkinEater

    Nothing to to do with Len. The guy was an aspiring ACT candidate, you know the sort, personal responsibility and less State interference. Who knows he might go to a Serco run Prison.

  • Addedup

    Hang on, who funded this personal hobby horse and took not the blindest bit of notice as long as he was supporting whatever needed supporting. Shouldn’t there be a wider investigation into who funded him and why.

  • david

    The tax department has managed to subvert the law and have tax avoidance treated the same as tax evasion. This used to be an important distinction (the Westminster Principle). It is like the difference between seduction and rape. Little’s palls want to do away with that distinction too. I would not condemn the man without knowing more about the case.

  • James

    Nothing wrong with evading or avoiding tax….its state theft of ones property after all. Tax is something only lefty scumbags support……right? ;-)

    • ex-JAFA

      *Avoiding* tax (structuring your affairs so that they are not liable for tax) is perfectly legal and a legitimate activity; it is a core function of accountants.

      *Evading* tax (failing to report or pay) is illegal and a despicable theft from your fellow taxpayers. If people don’t like current tax law, they should elect politicians who will change it.

      They are two very different things.