The ‘greedy’ son of the former deputy commissioner of the Australian Taxation Office has been jailed for at least 10 years after orchestrating a $105million tax fraud.
Adam Cranston, who called himself ‘the biggest fraudster in NSW’, appeared in the NSW Supreme Court via audiovisual link on Tuesday after being found guilty of conspiring to dishonestly cause a loss to the Commonwealth and conspiring to deal with proceeds of a crime worth millions of dollars.
Throughout the years of operating the tax scam, Cranston admitted he had regularly been using ketamine (a powerful anaesthetic), cocaine and LSD (also known as acid).
The 36-year-old looked anxious and concerned in his prison greens and a neon high-vis vest as he was sentenced for defrauding taxpayers out of more than $105m over three years.
After a trial that ran for nearly 11 months, a jury found Cranston guilty of directing the tax scam and laundering money through his company, Plutus Payroll.
Adan Cranston (pictured), the ‘greedy’ son of the former deputy commissioner of the Australian Taxation Office has been jailed for at least 10 years after orchestrating a $105million tax fraud
Former tax boss’s son Adam Cranston (left) with one of the luxury cars among 25 vehicles, 18 residential properties, 12 motorbikes, watches, vintage wines, jewellery and artworks seized by police
From April 2014 to May 2017, the court was told taxes were siphoned off from the payroll company into second-tier companies instead of being paid to the ATO.
The court was told Cranston personally pocketed more than $6.8million, which he splashed on luxury cars, properties and even a plane.
On Tuesday, Justice Anthony Payne SC found that Cranston committed the offences ‘not out of need but out of greed’.
He sentenced the fraudster to 15 years behind bars with a non-parole period of 10 years.
Cranston will be eligible for release on March 5, 2033.
Justice Payne asserted the tax fraud had a ‘corrosive impact on society’ because it robbed the community of $105m that could have been used to build hospitals or schools.
He said the stolen funds would have to be recouped by cuts to government services or increased taxes.
The Supreme Court Justice found Cranston did not appreciate the impact of his ‘gross violation’ of societal rules and had not shown commensurate contrition.
The court was told he had described his role in the staggering tax fraud as ‘wrong, impulsive, stupid, greedy’ and expressed his remorse.
However, Crown prosecutor Rae Sharp KC argued that Cranston’s contrition was ‘limited’ and mainly directed at the impact on his family.
She characterised Cranston as ‘one of the principal conspirators and architects of the scheme’.
‘He was intimately aware of the criminal purpose of the scheme and the means by which it would be achieved,’ she argued during the sentencing hearing earlier this month.
But Cranston’s lawyer, John Stratton SC, contended his client had been ‘kept in the dark’ by Plutus Payroll founder Simon Anquetil, who he called ‘the designer of the scheme’.
Justice Payne disagreed, finding that Cranston ‘knew at all times that Plutus was not legitimate or profitable’.
‘I reject any suggestions that Mr Anquetil was more heavily involved in the conspiracies than Mr Cranston or that he was the principal architect,’ he said.
‘It is clear Mr Anquetil never had any control over these (second-tier companies).’
The court was told he had been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depressive disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and substance abuse disorder.
Justice Payne said Cranston (pictured) ‘knew at all times that Plutus was not legitimate or profitable’
Yet Ms Sharpe maintained that Cranston’s ‘prolonged, willing, and enthusiastic participation’ in the conspiracies could not be attributed to his mental health conditions or drug use.
Justice Payne concurred, noting that Cranston had knowingly engaged in ‘a persistent course of conduct that was not spontaneous or opportunistic’.
Despite the lengthy prison term imposed on her husband, Cranston’s wife stood by him.
‘Although Adam has made a grave mistake, I know he is a good person and a loving father,’ she wrote in a letter to the court.