Jailed lawyer who dodged $2.3m ATO costs ordered to pay $20k

By Naomi Neilson|21 May 2020

A Queensland tribunal has recommended that a businessman, qualified as a lawyer and an accountant, be removed from the roll of practitioners and pay costs totaling $20,000.

In 2017, William Robert Feeney was found guilty and sentenced to three and a half years behind bars for dishonestly causing a risk of loss to the Commonwealth of $2,321,892 for withholding the amount from 122 employee’s wages as pay as you go (PAYG) taxes.

Despite the Australian Taxation Office being owed the money, Mr Feeney funneled more than $1.4 million into a personal trust account to buy several investment properties. They were brought for more than $3.82 million and were later sold for more than $6.3 million.

Instead of paying this amount to the ATO, he sunk it into other investment projects. During auditing, Mr Feeney then lied to the tax office, falsified ASIC documentation and told the liquidator that one of his companies was a start-up, despite operating since 2003.

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The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has recommended that he be removed from the roll of practitioners, in a decision passed onto a tribunal that is set to determine the application on documents, rather than with parties and witnesses at a hearing.

Mr Feeney has also been ordered to pay costs and incidental to the application, fixed for $20,000. The first $10,000 is to be paid within seven days, with the rest paid in instalments over 10 months, commencing in July 2020 with a $1,000 payment.

“Although the respondent has now been released from prison, no attempt has been made to demonstrate any material change to his character since the time of his conduct, the tribunal documents read.

“The probability, on the material before the tribunal, is that the respondent is permanently unfit to practice.

It is appropriate to recommend that his name is removed from the roll of practitioners. [Mr Feeney] did not oppose this course.”

Jailed lawyer who dodged $2.3m ATO costs ordered to pay $20k
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