Home detention for tax offences

Ilai Fa’anunu was sentenced on 20 charges relating to tax evasion yesterday. PHOTO: STAFF...
Ilai Fa’anunu was sentenced on 20 charges relating to tax evasion yesterday. PHOTO: STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
A Dunedin man swindled taxpayers out of more than $330,000 by failing to pay taxes and using the money to fund his gambling habit.

His offending began just months after finishing a sentence of community detention for similar behaviour.

Ilai Fa’anunu was yesterday sentenced in the Dunedin District Court on 15 charges of aiding and abetting the company in question, VF Contractors Ltd, to knowingly apply tax deductions for a purpose other than payment to Inland Revenue, and five charges of evading the payment of GST.

His behaviour was described by Judge Kevin Phillips as dishonest, deliberate, and pre-meditated.

The court heard that from March 2016 to July 2017, V F Contractors deducted PAYE from employees’ wages and filed PAYE returns with Inland Revenue.

However, apart from April 2016 and February 2017, it did not pay the $72,159.24 in contributions.

It also filed GST returns for several dates between March 2016 and May 2017, totalling $66,561.94, but that amount was also not paid.

Fa’anunu was the person responsible for the company’s books.

Over the period in question, he withdrew a total of $289,124.62 from the company’s bank accounts and deposited it into his own.

Much of the money was spent on gambling, the court heard.

Many of the payments were also coded as PAYE or GST in the company’s bank records to cover up the payments.

The company was placed into liquidation on October 10, 2018, owing $339,905.24 to Inland Revenue.

There was little prospect of the money being recovered.

It was not Fa’anunu’s first tax evasion offending.

On April 21, 2015, he was sentenced to six months of community detention for PAYE evasion to the tune of $81,325.97, relating to a different company.

Judge Phillips said the prior offending was a major aggravating factor.

However, he also noted that Fa’anunu had a young family and another baby on the way, and that a prison sentence would cause harm to them.

He also noted that Fa’anunu was now employed in an administration role at the University of Otago.

He sentenced him to four months of home detention and 200 hours of community work.

 

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