An Auckland businessman in the building sector has been sentenced to 19 months in prison for failing to pay nearly $400,000 in GST, income tax, and withholding tax.

Clive Stephen William Bench was convicted of 78 tax offences in Waitakere District Court related to his Aquaguard and GoCon companies.

GoCon was removed from the New Zealand Companies register in September 2015, and AquaGuard is now in liquidation.

Bench claimed in court that he was under severe stress from being sued in 2005, but he accepted he was responsible for meeting the companies' tax obligations and had failed to do so.

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"It's clear that Mr Bench still knew he was responsible as director for complying with the tax rules but chose not to. That's a completely unacceptable position to adopt," said Inland Revenue Group tax counsel Graham Tubb.

"It's a situation that other company directors need to be conscious of. If directors are in any doubt about their responsibilities, they should contact Inland Revenue or their tax advisers."

Bench was proven to have filed incomplete information to IRD to evade paying tax.

Reparation of $21,000 has been paid, leaving Bench with $380,000 outstanding.