14 businesses face huge $500,000 fines for claiming JobKeeper payments for positions that didn’t exist
- 14 businesses under investigation from ATO for fraudulently claiming JobKeeper
- Criminal charges are expected to be laid once the investigation is completed
- ATO said deliberate attempts to defraud the scheme will not be tolerated
The Australian Taxation Office are examining 14 businesses who fraudulently claimed JobKeeper payments at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An ATO spokesperson said the claims could result in criminal charges for those who cheated the system.
‘We assess all instances of fraudulent behaviour for the consideration of criminal investigations,’ the spokesperson said.
‘As at 13 November 2020, 14 JobKeeper matters are being investigated, referred for prosecution or finalised for the consideration of criminal offences under the Taxation Administration Act 1953.
The Australian Taxation Office are investigating 14 businesses who fraudulently claimed JobKeeper payments at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic (stock image)
‘There are currently 11 Serious Financial Crime Taskforce operations focused on investigating alleged crimes affecting the ATO-administered COVID-19 stimulus measures – six focusing on early release of superannuation and five focusing on JobKeeper.’
The historic government scheme was introduced in late March to assist employers and employees in what were unprecedented times.
From October 19, the ATO ended an estimated $200million worth of JobKeeper payments. They are currently examining a further $100million worth of claims.
A total of 19 shortfall administrative penalties worth almost $500,000 have already been issued, according to Nine News.
The ATO did admit they were lenient on those who found themselves genuinely confused about JobKeeper payments.
‘Determinations on penalties were made on the facts and circumstances of each case,’ the spokesperson said.
‘We are committed to tackling illegal activity and behaviour of concern to protect honest businesses and the community.’
A spokesperson from the ATO said the majority of businesses used JobKeeper for the right reasons (stock image)
Dishonest attempts to rort the scheme were not tolerated.
‘While most businesses and employees did the right thing, we have identified concerning and fraudulent behaviour and claims by a small number of organisations and employees,’ the ATO spokesperson added.
‘We will be actively pursue these claims, with penalties for making a false claim and not complying with your obligations.’
After the JobKeeper scheme was introduced on March 30 this year, an estimated $69billion has been paid by the ATO to those eligible.