$1.4m GST allegedly sidestepped

Customs staff were present in Donald St, Kaikorai Valley, on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Staff photographer
Customs staff were present in Donald St, Kaikorai Valley, on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Staff photographer
A Dunedin businessman who allegedly altered invoices to undervalue imported heavy machinery and evaded paying at least $1.4million in GST has been arrested following a Customs raid.

Paul Lambert Clarke (43), of Mosgiel, appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday facing three charges, including defrauding Customs of revenue, offences in relation to declarations and documents that are known to be faulty, and obtaining by deception.

Customs investigators, assisted by police, acting on warrants, carried out searches in Dunedin and Cromwell today leading to the arrest.

About $6million of property was also seized by the Southern police asset recovery unit.

Customs began investigating the business earlier this year after discovering Clarke had used an altered invoice to significantly undervalue an imported consignment of heavy machinery, it said in a statement.

An initial audit of 25 imported consignments by Clarke's company allegedly showed most of the consignments had been undervalued.

Customs alleges the business had imported more than 200 consignments since 2013, and the undervaluations were believed to have spanned the six-year period.

An initial analysis of the imported consignment documents show at least 90 of them had been undervalued, by a total of $9.6million, resulting in a $1.4million shortfall in GST payments, Customs said.

Customs investigations manager Bruce Berry said the accused had deliberately tried to circumvent the border systems in place to collect Government revenue.

daisy.hudson@odt.co.nz

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