The closing chapter in the long running saga of accountant Vanda Gould, a major donor to Christian causes, is a jail sentence.
“A former Sydney tax accountant has …been sentenced to three years and four months in jail in the Downing Centre District Court for attempting to pervert the course of justice,” an Australian Federal Police press statement says. The sentencing was on December 17.
Neil Chenoweth of the Australian Financial Review, who has chronicled the extensive Gould litigation, identified Gould.
— Neil Chenoweth (@NeilChenoweth) December 17, 2020
“The 72-year-old man was charged by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in 2016 over a false testimony given during civil proceedings in the Federal Court in 2013,” the police add.
“During those proceedings – which related to a tax evasion investigation – one of the witnesses gave evidence relating to his Swiss-based company’s apparent ownership of offshore companies. It was later found that this testimony was fabricated at the direction of the Sydney man, who had coached the witness to give false evidence.”
“As a result, the AFP issued the man a court attendance notice on 15 September 2016 for the criminal charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, contrary to section s43(1) of the Crimes Act 1914(Cth). The man was found guilty on 26 November 2019.
“He was given a non-parole period of one year and eight months.”
Eternity notes that Gould maintains his innocence and may appeal.
This witness tampering case comes in the wake of years of litigation about alleged tax evasion.
In February 2006, a Commonwealth cross agency taskforce called Project Wickenby was set up to combat international tax evasion. According to the Tax office, the task force led to over $2.2 billion in tax liabilities being raised. Companies linked to Gould were targets of the taskforce.
In 2016 , a unanimous decision of the High Court found that four companies that used a complex structure to give the impression there was overseas control (to avoid tax) were secretly controlled by Gould. Gould and his clients faced tax bills of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The investigation into Gould’s alleged control of the companies took years (Gould denies such control).
There was a Christian connection to the investigation. One of the offshore companies, as Neil Chenoweth reported in the Australian Financial Review in 2015, donated large sums of money to Anglican groups in Sydney. This included $1 million donated to Moore Theological College, $256,000 to the Church Army, $100,000 to Mary Andrews College, $500,000 to evangelism group Ellel Ministries to help them buy a property from the Anglicans, and funding Moore College lecturers to gain doctorates at Oxford and Cambridge.
Justice Perram in a Federal court case found it hard to believe that the ostensible owner of a Cayman Islands based company, Peter Borgas in Switzerland, would donate to a church halfway around the world.”
“And that was what helped lead Justice Perram to conclude that Gould was the puppet master behind the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of trades,” Chenoweth wrote.