Crikey understands that crack auditors from the Australian Taxation Office’s Serious Non-Compliance Squad (SNC) have been assigned to investigate the dirty deals and bribes scandal in Wollongong Council.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigation of the Council has uncovered a rat’s nest of dodgy deals where certain individuals have benefitted financially but are suspected of not having paid any tax on their illegal loot. A member of the SNC squad has been present throughout the hearings. The ATO position on earning money from illegal activities is simple; the income is generally assessable just like earning ordinary income from a job.

It is understood the tax probe will envelop some members of the Iemma Government. While ICAC has not uncovered corruption of any government minister, there has been evidence that developer Glen Tabak donated through his companies to last year’s election campaigns of Police Minister David Campbell, as well as the Minister for Tourism, Matt Brown, and the Labor MP for Wollongong, Noreen Hay. The ATO probe will centre on whether money or assets were provided to the individuals — not the election campaigns — and will investigate banking records and any unexplained conspicuous accumulation in assets.

Those under the tax microscope include:

  • Convicted conmen Ray Younan and Gerald Carroll, who are alleged to have impersonated ICAC officers to solicit bribes of $500,000 from six people named in the inquiry. The commission has issued an arrest warrant for Mr Younan, who is understood to be in Lebanon.
  • Former general manager and chief executive of Wollongong Council, Rod Oxley. Mr Oxley has been accused of receiving gifts from developers and pushing their development applications through council.
  • Planning Officer Beth Morgan has previously told the inquiry she had affairs with three prominent property developers and received gifts and cash from two of them.
  • Developer Frank Vellar has alleged three Labor councillors sought a bribe of $20,000 from him for their political slush funds.

Peter Fray

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