More than 50 joint investigations into high-end tax avoidance schemes detected through global data sharing by key countries focused on the abuse of cryptocurrencies. are under way involving Australia's tax office and four of its international counterparts.
The ATO's intensified cross-border investigations were reportedly revealed following a meeting of the J5 — also known as "The Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement."
The J5 is an international taskforce of tax enforcement authorities from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. It was established in July 2018 in a bid to tackle cryptocurrency- and cybercrime-related risks, in particular their role in transnational tax crimes and money laundering.
At no other time have criminals been at greater risk of being caught"
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the latest J5 meeting revealed the coalition was intensively sharing data to pursue 60 global investigations, with the ATO reportedly directly involved in 12.
ATO deputy commissioner Will Day has reportedly revealed that at least one of the investigations involves a global financial institution and its intermediaries, which is believed to have helped clients conceal assets and income data. In his statement, Day singled out the risks posed by cryptocurrencies.
"We're seeing the use of cryptocurrencies in ways that we haven't seen before. At the Australian level, there is definitely legitimate use for investment in cryptocurrencies, but we're also seeing the use of them to facilitate tax crimes," he said.
The partnering of the ATO with other members of the J5 meant far more information was now available that underpinned data-matching activities aimed specifically at tax criminals.
"At no other time have criminals been at greater risk of being caught," Day added. "In Australia, they are often intermediaries who are playing a role between the tax evader and an offshore entity."
In conjunction with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, the agency is identifying crypto traders using data sourced from domestic cryptocurrency exchanges.