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Auckland businessman gets jail for evading nearly $400,000 in tax

Auckland businessman Clive Stephen William Bench was last week sentenced to 19 months in prison for failing to pay $399,827 in GST, income tax and withholding tax.

Bench was convicted in Waitakere District Court on 78 tax offences relating to his companies Aquaguard and GoCon, including failure to file income tax returns, failing to make withholding tax deductions, and providing incomplete information to evade the payment of tax.

Inland Revenue Group Tax Counsel Graham Tubb said Bench accepted he was responsible for meeting the companies’ tax obligations but had failed to do so over a lengthy period. He told the court that he was under severe stress from being sued in 2005. Mr Tubb acknowledged that that was regrettable, but nevertheless:

“It’s clear that Bench still knew he was responsible as director for complying with the tax rules but chose not to. That’s a completely unacceptable position to adopt."

“It’s a situation that other company directors need to be conscious of. If directors are in any doubt about their responsibilities, they should contact Inland Revenue or their tax advisers.”

Reparation of $21,400 had been paid, leaving nearly $380,000 outstanding.