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Home detention for tax evasion

A Bay of Plenty man, who claimed his company was not subject to New Zealand law, has been sentenced to home detention on six tax evasion charges.

Stephen George Gibson Clark of Opotiki was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court on 21 April 2023. He was found guilty following a 5 day jury trial in December 2022.

Clark claimed his agricultural and fertiliser business company Probitas Systems NZ Limited (“PSL”) was vested in a Maori trust and was not subject to New Zealand laws. However, Inland Revenue told the company many times that there was no basis in law for this position.

Clark also claimed Inland Revenue should contact the Nga Tikanga Maori Law Society, a known anti-tax movement associated with a former PSL shareholder, Ewan Campbell. Campbell was prosecuted for large scale tax evasion in 2015 and sentenced to imprisonment for four years and nine months.

It was after the Campbell case that Clark assumed full control of the company and continued to be largely non-compliant with payment of GST and filing income tax returns.

Despite multiple requests, Clark had failed to supply information in relation to the company’s tax affairs as required under Section 17 of the Tax Administration Act 1994. That meant PSL evaded a minimum of $55,919.58 of income tax and GST.

Before the trial last year, Clark tried to claim Inland Revenue’s officers did not have valid delegated authority to take legal action against him, but the claim was dismissed.

In sentencing Clark, Judge Snell noted his “astonishment” at the way Clark acted in respect of the court proceedings and said he had taken the matter to every legal challenge he possibly could. He also noted the jury found Clark acted fraudulently “without any difficulty at all”.

Clark was sentenced to four and a half months home detention and ordered to pay $30,000 in reparations.

Last updated: 23 Apr 2023
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