Trucking boss sentenced to 20 years for drug offence and fuel scam


SA trucking boss Reginald Roberts, 68, has been hit with combined jail sentences of 20 years and six months for his role in a massive meth bust and lodging false rebate claims for fuel.

Roberts had been sentenced in January to 10 years and six months in jail with a non-parole period of six years and 10 months for the 2018 $270m meth haul.

During sentencing for the drug charge, Judge Ian Press found that Roberts had not been a mastermind in importing the drugs but had taken a “substantial step” in ensuring the 313kg of meth reached the streets.

But that news had been supressed until this week while he was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for creating fake transport businesses and lodging false rebate claims for fuel.

The drugs were discovered inside a crane jib.

Yesterday the District Court of South Australia sentenced Roberts to an additional 10 years in jail after being found guilty of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

Between 2002 and 2006, Roberts, who already operated trucking businesses in South Australia, created three additional companies – Double R Logistics, Inter Link Freight Services, and Phillip Williams Pty Ltd.

He used false identities and lodged 75 fraudulent claims for more than 20 million litres of fuel, with no evidence that it was ever purchased or used under the Diesel and Alternative Fuels Grants Scheme and the Energy Grants Credit Scheme, which were designed to allow heavy road transport businesses to claim back 18.51 cents per litre of fuel used.

Following investigation, it was found that no trucks were registered to the businesses at the time, and searches at Roberts’s home and business found no business records to support more than $3.8 million of taxpayer money he’d claimed.

Assistant Commissioner Ian Read welcomed the sentence this week.

“This outcome demonstrates the ATO’s commitment to detecting and prosecuting tax crimes, no matter how long it has been,” Assistant Commissioner Ian Read said.

“We have a duty to the community to protect the integrity of the tax and super systems, and we have no tolerance for blatant fraud like we have seen in this case. Mr Roberts obtained an unfair advantage over Australians who are doing the right thing, robbing the Australian economy of millions that could have been spent on essential services. Tax crime is not victimless.”

Read said sentencing remarks from yesterday’s outcome spoke to the exhaustive analysis undertaken by the ATO in detecting this crime.

“Our investigation of large quantities of irrelevant documentation provided by Mr Roberts was described as a ‘Herculean’ task by his Honour Judge Stretton. This matter demonstrates we have the resources to actively uncover those trying to cheat the tax system,” Read said.

The Diesel and Alternative Fuel Grants Scheme and the Energy Grants Credit Scheme ran from 2000 to 2003, and 2003 to 2006 respectively before being replaced by fuel tax credits.

This scheme provides eligible businesses with a credit for the fuel tax that’s included in the price of fuel used in machinery, plant, equipment, heavy vehicles and light vehicles travelling off public or private roads.

“We have approximately 256,000 fuel tax credit registered clients and generally see high levels of compliance,” Read added.

“We undertake targeted compliance activity to address aggressive claiming and deliberate non-compliance and while most people do the right thing, those who deliberately try to cheat the tax system can expect to feel the full force of the law.”

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