Tax fraud, forgery and benefit rorts all part of the package

Paul Thomas Staples and Jean Staples leave the Manukau District Court

Paul Thomas Staples and Jean Staples leave the Manukau District Court

THE WIFE of a notorious Auckland tax cheat spent five years on the domestic purposes benefit while she was still living with her husband – but was never charged with benefit fraud.

Between 2006 and 2011 Jean Staples, the wife of 52-year-old former bankrupt Paul Staples, received more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded benefits while she was helping her husband cook the books for companies set up by him under her name to defraud IRD.

Paul Staples will appear in the Manukau District Court on December 3 for sentencing on charges of forgery, tax evasion and knowingly providing false information to Inland Revenue – offences which carry maximum penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment.

Court records show that between September 2008 and August 2011, Staples filed 27 fraudulent income tax and bogus GST returns with IRD under three different companies.

During that time he also claimed a salary as a shareholder of a company when he wasn’t one, falsified sale and purchase agreements and legal documents and registered companies when he was a bankrupt.

Inland Revenue has assessed the debt at around $320,000, but with penalties and interest it is likely to run to well over half a million dollars.

It appears a deal may have been negotiated between the prosecution and Staples where in return for guilty pleas on all counts no charges were laid against his wife, who judging by the police summary of facts was a party to most of the offending.   

In order to get round laws prohibiting anyone declared bankrupt from forming a company, Staples would register companies under the name of his wife and other associates.

The couple married in 2005 but just a year later in what appears a deliberate attempt to rort Work and Income they advised Inland Revenue they’d separated when in fact they were still living together and actively collaborating in GST and income tax fraud.

From September 2006 to November 2011, Jean Staples was in receipt of the domestic purposes benefit while at the same time she was receiving proceeds from her husbands fraudulent tax activities. Six months later and right under the nose of IRD, Staples also began receiving a Work and Income benefit.

According to the police summary of facts, between that period and March 2012 he declared $40,698 of gross income, primarily from WINZ benefits.

Staples offending began back in 2008 with a shell company established specifically for the purposes of rorting IRD. In September 2008, Staples registered STH Investments Ltd for GST and between then and May 2011 claimed close to $100,000 in refunds from bogus returns.

Upon payment, those funds would go directly into Jean Staples personal account and would then be used to pay personal bills and the couple’s mortgage.

An inspection of the company bank statements showed STH Investments Ltd existed in name only – the company had no taxable activity and no assets or income apart from GST refunds.

It was a similar situation with ‘security firm’ ‘380 Express Ltd’, a company formed by Staples in April 2007. The initial director was Barrie Hogg, a friend of Staples. Staples wife later replaced him until Staples took over sole directorship of the company in October 2011.

In October 2009 the company was registered for GST and received refunds of $14,720 despite never providing tax invoices or bank statements in support of the claims.

In March 2010 the company filed an income tax return declaring a loss of $20,083 with a net tax benefit of $6009. The claim the company had run at a loss was not supported by any evidence.

When the company bank statements were inspected, there was no record of any business activity between November 2009 and May 2011 other than the receiving and disbursing of GST refunds. That money was used primarily for food, fuel, mortgage and car repayments.

TOMORROW: THE OFFENDING CONTINUES


cookStephen Cook is a multi award winning journalist and former news editor and assistant editor of the Herald on Sunday.

 

 

Disclosure: Cam Slater was previously in business with Paul Staples in a security company

 


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