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Woman jailed in $105m tax scam

A fourth person has been sentenced to four years imprisonment for their role in a syndicate that allegedly defrauded the Commonwealth of over $105 million.

Devyn Hammond was sentenced in the Supreme Court of NSW to four years jail for her role in a syndicate that is alleged to have defrauded the Commonwealth of more than $105 million over three years.

Hammond pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth and conspiring to deal with proceeds of crime in excess of $1 million.

She is the fourth person to be sentenced for their role in this syndicate and was given a non-parole period of two years and six months.

Operation Elbrus was a 2017 investigation led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), with significant assistance from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), into a large-scale and organised tax fraud conspiracy.

The investigation revealed a group of people that used payroll services companies to divert pay-as-you-go withholding tax and goods and services tax owed to the ATO.

It was soon discovered one of the leaders of the syndicate was the son of former deputy tax commissioner Michael Cranston, Adam Cranston. His daughter, Lauren Cranston, was also involved.

Sixteen people were charged as part of Operation Elbrus. Hammond's sentencing marks the fourth sentencing outcome for the operation.

AFP commander investigations eastern command, Kirsty Schofield, said investigating complex fraud matters requires dedication, tenacity and an ongoing commitment from all involved.

"Tax fraud takes money away from essential community services and leaves everyday taxpayers to pick up the bill.  It's not a victimless crime - it impacts every single Australian who wants to do the right thing," Schofield said.

"The fourth sentencing is another step forward for Operation Elbrus investigators. Their commitment to this matter is stretching into its fourth year, but there is still a great deal of work to go in support of the remaining matters before the courts."

Chief of the serious financial crime taskforce Will Day welcomed the sentence, saying it shows the commitment of the taskforce in bringing the most serious offenders of financial crime to account.

"This was part of an elaborate and complicated scheme, but our sophisticated approach, combining intelligence and specialist powers of taskforce agencies, means tax criminals will come unstuck," Day said.

"Tax crime affects everyone. This particular fraud has ripped off innocent creditors and deprived the public of valuable funds that could otherwise be used to fund essential services."

Read more: Operation ElbrusAdam CranstonAustralian Federal PoliceAustralian Taxation OfficeDevyn HammondKirsty SchofieldLauren CranstonMichael CranstonWill Day
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