$21m tax case against Brisbane millionaire Harold Murray
- by: Vanda Carson
- From: The Daily Telegraph
- August 29, 2012 4:54PM
A WHISTLEBLOWER who leaked sensitive client details from a secretive bank in Liechtenstein supplied critical evidence in a successful $21 million tax case against a Brisbane millionaire.
The former bank staffer of LGT Bank in Liechtenstein, who cannot be named because of a suppression order, copied hundreds of names of clients in November 2002, giving three CD’s filled with names to the Australian Taxation Office in October 2006.
Seven months later the ATO raided the Brisbane home of former expat businessman Harold Murray and a massive tax audit began.
The leaked details have been used in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Brisbane to successfully fight attempts by Mr Murray to avoid paying his tax between 1999 and 2007.
AAT Deputy President Philip Hack SC ruled this week that the 70 year old from Pullenvale in Brisbane’s west, must pay the $11 million in penalties and tax on $25 million in extra income he stashed in an LGT Bank account in Liechtenstein.
The massive investment returns were possible thanks to successful investment in international hedge funds.
Mr Murray’s name was secret until the publication of the decision on August 24.
The ATO argued Mr Murray tried to evade paying tax on his money by using a complex net of trusts and companies and in a Liechtenstein bank in an account with the name of the San Simeon Foundation, set up by Mr Murray in October 1995.
Mr Murray denied “receiving a benefit” from the foundation, but Mr Hack SC ruled this was wrong and that Mr Murray was entitled to the income of the foundation.
In a pre-trial hearing the ATO accused Mr Murray of fleeing Australia to avoid prosecution for tax evasion.
Mr Murray hit back by comparing himself to fugitive French film director Roman Polanski and actor Paul Hogan, who has since settled his claim.
The millionaire refused to return to Brisbane to give evidence in the tribunal, arguing he cannot return to Australia for fear he will be arrested and detained until he pays the $21 million.
He asked to give evidence via video-link, but was refused.
Mr Hack SC was critical of Mr Murray’s failure to attend the case, and documents he did not produce to the court.
The case was heard over five days in July and one day this month.
Mr Murray was born in Australia and is an Australian citizen but has been living in Singapore since August 2007.
He spent much of his career working in Hong Kong.
He lived in Australia while his three children – now aged 29, 25 and 24 – were at school or university. He has been retired for 20 years.
For professional advice concerning tax related matters, contact the team at Irish Bentley Lawyers.