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Former tax agent employee sentenced for fraud
15 January 2009
A former tax agent employee convicted of fraud and using some of the money for overseas travel has been sentenced to home detention and community service.
Heather Manssen, 37, was sentenced in the Whakatane District Court after earlier admitting 79 charges of accessing a computer system for dishonest purpose.
She was sentenced to 12 months home detention as well as 240 hours community service. Reparation of $42,801 was also ordered.
Inland Revenue Manager Assurance, Investigations, Richard Philp, said Manssen's sentence reflects the seriousness with which the courts view such behaviour.
"The tax system relies on the honesty and integrity of those working in it."
Offending of this nature goes against everything that is expected and when it does happen, a person can expect both the courts and Inland Revenue to take a very dim view," Mr Philp said.
"Manssen betrayed her professional obligations for personal gain and profit."
As an employee of a tax agent, Manssen was able to get a user-name and password to access Inland Revenue's online services and file returns electronically.
In early 2008, while working for a Whakatane accounting office, she used her online access to register 12 people for tax rebates without their knowledge or consent.
As a result, $38,000 was paid into accounts operated by Manssen and her husband. Another $5,000 she claimed was not paid out, but was automatically transferred by Inland Revenue to pay debts owed by some of the taxpayers.
Manssen went on to work for another accounting agency, and used the online services to file a further six rebate claims for $3,745.00.
Payments Inland Revenue traced from the bank accounts went to mortgage and vehicle payments, other asset purchases and overseas travel.
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