Oz accountant fails to keep fancy cars, posh house and NZ bank account

About $2 million stashed in New Zealand bank accounts, two Rolls Royces and a sports yacht are among a treasure trove of assets forfeited to Australian police by a New South Wales accountant jailed for his part in a fraudulent tax scheme.

Former Ernst & Young principal Anthony James Dickson fought hard to keep the luxury goods and a posh Sydney home out of the hands of authorities, even after he was sent to jail for 11 years.

Dickson, with his co-conspirator, agreed to have their company make hundreds of millions of dollars of false depreciation claims in their tax returns.

They did this to avoid paying tax on income of units in trust which generated large profits in financing transactions involving ANZ and some of the bank's clients.


Dickson, in his early 50s, was jailed last year and will not be eligible for parole until 2021.

When sending him to prison, the Supreme Court of New South Wales' Justice Robert Beech-Jones said "one could have sympathy" for Dickson. "He finds himself broke, professionally ruined and incarcerated.

He was a person who had much to lose and he has now lost it," Justice Beech-Jones said.

"However his situation is not a product of circumstances but of a conscious decision on his part to pursue a dishonest and fraudulent tax scheme on a large scale. He engaged in the conduct the subject of the offences while holding an unshakeable belief in his intellectual superiority to all those around him and the ATO [Australian Tax Office]. It was his undoing."

Unimpressive witness

Despite being behind bars, the former Westpac and National Australia Bank employee still attempted to keep his frozen assets out of the hands of the Australian police.

He applied to have a string of assets, including $2 million in New Zealand bank accounts, excluded from forfeiture orders.

He said, in his evidence, that the two Rolls Royces were bought when he traded in other cars (including a Porsche) rather than from funds connected to his case.

But Justice Christine Adamson, who heard Dickson's bid, was unconvinced.


"Mr Dickson was an unimpressive witness. He provided no documentary support for his evidence, which was not only self-serving but also, at times, inconsistent ... he was apparently unable (or unwilling) to respond directly to questions put fairly to him," the judge wrote in her decision last month.

Because the jailed accountant failed to legally exclude any of the assets from the police's net, they were automatically forfeited to authorities.

Not quite coining it

A giant, collapsed bitcoin exchange has accepted a $43 million claim from a defunct New Zealand trading platform.

New Zealand limited partnership Bitcoinica owned and managed a digital currency trading platform but shut down in 2012 after bitcoin and fiat currency were stolen from it.

When they were appointed in 2012, liquidators Anthony McCullagh and Stephen Lawrence from PKF said they believed the partnership had 64,532 bitcoin and US$135,000 in the now-collapsed Mt Gox.

Mt Gox was once the world's largest bitcoin exchange but collapsed into bankruptcy in 2014 after the apparent theft of more than 700,000 bitcoin, worth more than $500 million at the time.

After more than a year's wait, Mt Gox's trustee has advised that it has accepted three Bitcoinica claims.

According to Mt Gox documents seen by Business Insider, these claims are worth 3.29 billion ($42.7million).

Despite the claim being accepted, the liquidators say in their latest report that it is unknown what assets will be available for distribution from Mt Gox to its creditors nor whether this would be in bitcoin or government-backed currency.

When this is clarified, the liquidators say they will be in a position to work out the best method of distribution to the partnership's creditors.

About 200 creditors have made claims with Bitcoinica, although it is not believed any are from New Zealand. These creditors are claiming 91,339 bitcoin, US$248,000 in cash and US$276,000 in leveraged trading positions.

Probe keeps going

South Canterbury Finance preference share investors may be hit up for more money as an investigation continues into legal action to recover funds.

Around 4000 investors had bought SCF preference shares, which at one point were worth $120 million but tanked when the company hit the rocks. These investors got nothing from the failed finance company's $1.7 billion taxpayer bailout in 2010.

An investor-funded probe has been underway for more than a year, looking into whether any recovery action can be launched.

Business Insider wrongly believed the inquiry had hit the rocks after not hearing any news for months.

However, an update from Paraparaumu sharebroker Chris Lee this month said the probe was almost complete.

Lee said the investigation had "been a long, arduous process" that uncovered more information than expected.

"At present we do not have a green light and we cannot say with certainty that the next step will proceed but it is fair to say that there is optimism that our investigation is getting close to the end," he said.

The action group working on the probe had recently met with a litigation funder, but had exhausted the more than $150,000 that investors had contributed.

"Due to the sheer size of the case we have recently exhausted our legal funds. Currently I am paying the ongoing legal bills but if we do engage a litigation funder it is only fair that I will be asking all investors to contribute to the overall shortfall of the action group costs.

"However, I will delay seeking any further contribution until there is certainty that a case will be pursued and fully-funded externally," Lee said.