A mortgage industry magnate has been charged with fraud offences worth more than $30m following a complex eight-year investigation.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) allege that John Kinghorn, 76, the founder of RAMS Home Loans (acquired by Westpac in 2008) and part-owner and director of LJ Hooker Home Loans, fraudulently concealed his beneficial ownership and control of corporate entities, avoiding associated tax obligations in excess of $30m.
Kinghorn has been charged with one count of dishonestly influencing a Commonwealth public official and one count of defrauding the Commonwealth. The maximum penalty for these offences is up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Kinghorn appeared in court in Sydney on Tuesday (31 October) and did not enter a plea, according to ABC. The matter will return to court in February.
“Serious financial crime poses a threat to Australia’s economy, financial markets, regulatory frameworks, superannuation and tax system,” said AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan in a news release.
“Commonwealth fraud offences have a significant impact on the Australian public – every dollar represents funds that could have been put to use for the benefit of the whole community.”
“This result should serve as a warning that we will use every capability at our disposal to bring allegations of fraud before court.”
Gaughan said the investigation required extensive cooperation within the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce and with international agencies.
“I’d like to commend the officers involved in this complex and lengthy investigation for their persistence and dedication to ensuring the integrity of Australia’s financial frameworks,” he said.
The Serious Financial Crime Taskforce is a multi-agency effort targeting serious financial crime in Australia, including serious fraud, money laundering and defrauding the Commonwealth.
Since the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce was established in July 2015, more than 614 audits have been completed and $408m tax liabilities have been raised. Four people have received custodial sentences following prosecution. There are currently 26 criminal, civil and intelligence matters in progress.