An Australian woman extradited from Canada has been granted bail in Brisbane following a David and Goliath bail application.
The Gold Coast woman, Karen Williams aged 54 faced Magistrate Sue Ganasan in Brisbane Magistrates Court where she was charged with 90 offences which related to the false lodgement of Business Activity Statements totalling $4.7m between 2012 and 2016.
Crown Prosecutor, Lindsay Glen SC argued that as a result of the lodgement of these statements, the Australian Tax Office were deceived which resulted in the tax office’s processing systems automatically crediting the GST & PAYG credit to the relevant entities which were associated with her at the time which were responsible for operating many childcare facilities across the nation.
It is alleged that Williams and her accountant also discussed the establishment of a separate entity to ‘fulfil role as labour hire entity’ and to protect her assets so as to evade mandatory superannuation payments to employees.
Her appearance in court ended a four year battle in trying to have Williams returned to Australia to face these charges . A warrant initially issued for her arrest in 2017 where Mr Glen SC argued that Ms Williams had been tipped off about the ATO investigation and fled the country with her son and dogs.
Ms Williams’ barrister Omar Juweinat told the court that the facts were “as foggy as the Chinese atmosphere. The reality is that the accused would need to unnecessarily spend the next two years waiting for potentially tens of thousands of documents which may or may not tend to prove the quantum. The evidence will demonstrate that the applicant did in fact repay in excess of $4 million to the ATO.”
Magistrate Ganasan was critical about the the fact that Williams failed to return voluntarily despite knowing about the existence of the warrant for years. Mr Juweinat told the court that despite Williams finding out about the warrant, she managed to maintain her litigation with the tax office, instruct her lawyers from overseas and maintained very frequent contact. He told the court “it was not as if she decided to hide under a rock, in a cave, under the sea. She played a very enthusiastic role in these proceeding and her planned return in 2020 was evidently thwarted by perhaps the greatest force of all, COVID-19”.
Her matter returns to court on 18 June.