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Tax Fraud Wins Australian Gambler 10 Years

10 August 2005

VICTORIA, Australia -- As reported by Port Vila Presse: "A gambling addiction, blind ambition and a desire to flaunt his riches led Keith Jonathan Fernandez to play a central role in one of the biggest stamp duty frauds in Victorian history — a role for which he was sentenced to at least seven years' jail yesterday.

"County Court judge Leo Hart sentenced the accountant, 36, who failed to pass on $10.1 million in tax to the State Revenue Office, to 10 years' jail with a non-parole period of seven.

"Fernandez, a former director of now-liquidated TQM Legal and Accounting, stole the money from February 1998 to November 2000. Through the company, which serviced the legal profession and conveyancing industry, Fernandez collected more than $15 million in duty but declared only $5 million to the State Revenue Office.

"He poured the stolen money into offshore betting accounts, with $3.1 million paid in 38 cheques to Dialabet, a Vanuatu-based phone betting service.

"He also gambled more than $500,000 at the Crown casino, losing almost half that amount..."

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