- »ATO Asks Casinos for Help in Huang Case
ATO Asks Casinos for Help in Huang Case
When the Australian Taxation Office wants its money, it will do what it takes to get it. Sometimes, that means notifying that person’s favorite casinos and asking for casino information, for assistance in tracking down money.
High-stakes gamblers may try to hide money in casino accounts or offshore accounts tied to casino markers. But the Aussies will find those accounts if forced to do so.
Tax Office Troubles
Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo owes A$140 million in taxes to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The only reason that this casino information is public knowledge is because the ATO has had to go to federal court to try to get the money it is owed.
Living as an Australian resident since 2011, Huang is allegedly hiding money in offshore bank accounts to avoid paying taxes.
As relayed to the court, the ATO is certain that Huang restructured his finances to avoid obligations related to his Australian-based businesses. He allegedly established a complicated business structure in Australia to avoid creditors, including the ATO. Also, the ATO believes he “grossly understated his income” with the same intentions.
According to the South China Morning Post, the ATO filed numerous documents and affidavits with the court in the hopes of garnering some assistance in exposing Huang’s financial holdings and pursuing tax debts.
The ATO made numerous allegations to the court. Senior ATO Officer Yi Deng said, “For example, the commissioner (of taxation) is concerned that the trusts and corporate entities associated with Mr. Huang mask the true level of control Mr. Huang is able to exert over those trusts and corporate entities.”
The government is also concerned that Huang’s wife, Huang Jiefang, along with son and Australian citizen Jimmy Huang, recently left Australia. The concern is that they have access to those secret accounts and do not intent to return to Australia to settle any debts.
The ATO has fairly wide authority to seek information, which led the entity to go through Australian casinos.
Huang has numerous ties to casinos, mostly in the form of casino markers and high-stakes gambling. That led the ATO to reach out to casinos with garnishment notices to collect any monies that might be held at the casinos. Those casinos included The Star in Sydney and Gold Coast, Treasury Casino in Brisbane, and Crown Casino in Melbourne.
Those notices led to communications with the casinos, the records of whichalso showed two offshore bank accounts connected to Huang’s casino accounts. The ATO hopes to access money through garnishment orders, though this is unlikely without a court judgment.
Casinos must cooperate with the government for numerous reasons, the primary one stemming from anti-money laundering laws. Since casinos want to avoid any notion of improprieties that might set off alarms related to money laundering, they will cooperate with entities like the ATO. There are also laws requiring that casinos provide certain information to the government in any case.
Who is Huang Xiangmo?
Born in Chaozhou, China, Huang moved to Australia in 2011.
His businesses were already thriving, classifying him as a respected real estate developer and business tycoon. Huang is the CEO of Yuhu Group, a Sydney-based property development company.
Huang’s business endeavors brought a certain amount of fame, but so did his political donations. He has reportedly donated close to $3 million to various Australian political parties through his personal and business accounts.
Some in Australia began to suspect that the political donations were to influence Australia’s policies on behalf of China, specifically via the Chinese Community Party. This led to the cancellation of Huang’s permanent Australian residency. And in February of this year, his request for Australian citizenship was also denied. Further, Huang could not re-enter Australia.
Huang then requested the return of his political donations, something that has reportedly not happened. He began badmouthing Australia.
And the ATO is now pursuing Huang for the outstanding taxes.
Summoning All Powers
One may ask how a person accumulated $140 million in tax debt. Most of it is not current.
As per the ATO documents presented to the court, the entity believes that Huang misrepresented his income in past years, specifically from 2013 to 2015. In some cases, he was said to have directly lied about his income and submitted tax returns with “recklessness.”
In addition to sending garnishment notices to casinos and financial institutions, the ATO also requested a freeze on Huang’s assets, including the family mansion.
Huang has already been shown to have moved $46 million out of Australia. This was something he did after his Australian bank-based credit cards were cancelled in late 2018. In the hopes of preventing Huang from liquidating all of his assets, the ATO requested the court’s assistance.
Attorneys representing Huang are fighting the freezing orders and property seizures.
The court will bring also all parties back for more discussions this month.