Tax evader lands home detention

By Sandra Conchie

A former self-employed internet retailer, who filed more than $80,000 in bogus GST returns, has been sentenced to nine months' home detention.

ACC beneficiary Peter Noel Gatenby, 45, of Welcome Bay was sentenced in Tauranga District Court yesterday, after earlier pleading guilty to seven charges of tax evasion.

The charges also include him attempting to seek a further $25,000 of GST refunds, which the IRD did not pay out after becoming suspicious.

Gatenby's offending came to the IRD's attention in December 2011 when he filed a two-monthly GST return requesting a refund of $25,029.96, but the return showed a zero income for GST purposes and high expenses.

Gatenby admitted that between October 1, 2010 and November 30, 2011 he filed seven bogus GST returns and received $83,653.80 in refunds he was not entitled to.

In explanation, he said he had done so because he saw an opportunity to get money to support his lifestyle and pay some outstanding debts.

Lawyer Bill Nabney successfully argued before Judge Robert Wolff for a sentence of home detention for his client, who he said was receiving ACC for a back injury and supporting two teenage sons.

He said Gatenby's offending arose after he was "sorely let down" by his business colleagues and was left holding personal guarantees for almost $200,000 of debts.

As an undischarged bankrupt, Gatenby has no assets or means of paying the reparation.

Judge Wolff told Gatenby that given his personal circumstances and that he had no prior convictions of the same nature, he was prepared to impose a sentence of home detention.

"Payment of tax may be an unattractive task for most of us, but it is a very important function if the wheels of society are to keep turning, and ensure there are sufficient funds ...

"Your offending therefore involved stealing from the community at large," the judge said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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