Operator found guilty of scamming $3.8 million in rebates


South Australian trucking company boss Reginald Roberts has been found guilty of stealing $3.8 million from the ATO through fuel excise fraud.

During a long District Court trial, the jury heard that Roberts, 67, had created fictitious companies – RR Logistics, Inter Link Freight Services and Phillip Williams Pty Ltd – to lodge false claims for rebates from the ATO’s Diesel and Alternative Fuels Grant Scheme and the Energy Grants Credits Scheme.

According to the claims lodged by Roberts, each of the companies had numerous trucks completing dozens of trips, making them eligible for an 18.51 cent per litre rebated for diesel purchases between December 2002 and June 2006.

But in reality the companies and the trucks existed only on paper and an ATO audit found no evidence that the businesses were legitimate.

Jeff Powell, prosecuting, told the jury that despite searches of Roberts’ Waterloo Corner property and the offices of his accountants, investigators were unable to find any documents proving three of the businesses linked to Roberts were legitimate, reports The Advertiser.

Powell told the jury Roberts used two fake identities to open bank accounts for the businesses, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of rebate money paid into those business bank accounts was then transferred into Roberts’ personal and business accounts.

Roberts’ lawyer Chris Allen argued that the evidence before the court was only circumstantial.

But the jury was out for less than three hours and required less than three minutes per count to find Roberts unanimously guilty of 75 charges of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage from the Commonwealth between December 2002 and June 2006.

Roberts will next appear in court in May for sentencing submissions.

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