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Hamilton accountant jailed for tax fraud

A Hamilton-based chartered accountant, who fabricated GST and income tax returns to fund a gambling habit and go on holidays, has been sent to prison for three years.

Megan Nyree Findlay was sentenced today in the Hamilton District Court for filing fraudulent GST, and income tax returns on behalf of a company.

Findlay fraudulently obtained nearly $467,000 for herself and evaded $274,229.55 of tax by the family business whose tax returns she was preparing, resulting in a loss to taxpayers of more than $741,000.

IRD spokesperson Richard Philp says Findlay filed 22 GST and 6 Income Tax returns on behalf of the family company, Newlook International Ltd.

“The returns were entirely fabricated and bore no resemblance to the actual sales and expenses contained in the company bank statements provided to her. Their sole purpose was to reduce the company’s tax liability and create fraudulent refunds,” Richard Philp says.

“Findlay was appointed as her family’s company accountant in 2012 and soon began cooking the books, filing fraudulent tax returns on behalf of the company for more than seven years.

“She was able to reduce the company’s tax bill and generate fraudulent tax refunds, the majority of which were transferred to her personal bank account and spent on her lifestyle, which included gambling, holidays, and shopping.

“As part of her fraud, Findlay impersonated both of her parents to follow up on the progress of refunds, direct transfers, and update personal details. She also forwarded fake emails to former colleagues at a professional accounting firm to direct transfers and refunds into her personal IRD and bank accounts.

“The tax system relies upon the honesty of taxpayers and the professional integrity of their advisors. Findlay exploited the position of trust she held as a chartered accountant, which enabled to her to continue her offending as long as she did”.

“This is straight theft from the community. That money could have gone into infrastructure, and the health and education systems to benefit all New Zealanders but instead went into her pocket to fund her lifestyle, Richard Philp says.