Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Jack Gramenz

Plutus lawyer jailed nine years for 'biggest tax fraud'

Dev Menon has been jailed for at least nine years for his role in the Plutus Payroll tax fraud. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

A lawyer who covertly recorded telling his co-conspirators theirs was "the biggest tax fraud in Australia's history" has been jailed for at least nine years.

Dev Menon, 39, had shown no remorse and did not believe they did anything wrong, Justice Anthony Payne said, sentencing Menon on Tuesday.

Menon was found guilty in March along with four others of conspiring to dishonestly cause a loss to the Commonwealth and deal with the proceeds of crime worth more than $1 million, described as the tax fraud and money laundering conspiracies of Plutus Payroll.

The company took clients' money and funnelled it through a web of second-tier companies instead of paying it to the tax office, siphoning a loss of $105 million between 2014 and 2017.

"It would be the biggest tax fraud in Australia's history, definitely, there is no question," Menon said in one conversation, among hundreds of "compelling" recordings played during the marathon nine-month trial.

While not around for its incubation, Menon eventually became a pivotal participant in both conspiracies, becoming knowingly involved from at least June 2015, the judge found.

Menon gave advice on how to avoid detection, helped manage vulnerable straw directors and had them sign false documents exposing them to massive tax liabilities.

He met with co-conspirators in February 2017 when Daniel Rostankovski, jailed for at least seven years and two months, picked his moment to turn and extort them, entering the room with news he had "boys" waiting downstairs.

"They all want to come up here and belt the f*** out of you," he said.

Rostankovski could "see the whole scam" and threatened to expose it to the Australian Federal Police, which recorded his threat.

Menon did not report the extortion, instead perceiving an advantage and engaging in more serious criminal conduct.

Covering up the conspiracy's crimes and arranging false affidavits which would leave directors "stitched up to the max," Menon arranged it so future blackmail demands could be reported to police, insulating against the threat of repeated demands which swelled to $25 million, the judge found.

Menon knew the directors were not capable, describing one straw director as "not smart enough to sit in a meeting with the ATO" and two others as "retarded".

He later lied to Revenue NSW that those same directors were legitimate, all "thoroughly discreditable conduct" for a solicitor, the judge found.

It was submitted in his defence Menon performed real, valuable legal work and was accordingly paid almost $250,000.

"This rather misses the point," Justice Payne said.

Menon abused professional trust, exacerbating his persistent conduct throughout his involvement in one of the most serious tax fraud and money laundering conspiracies.

While not primarily motivated by greed, Menon could not avoid jail despite "heartbreaking circumstances" now facing his family with a child having a serious medical condition, the judge found.

Menon shook his head, which was in his hand, appearing via video link from the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre in Sydney's west at Silverwater.

He was sentenced to a total of 14 years and is eligible for parole in May 2032.

Menon joins co-conspirators Lauren Cranston and Patrick Willmott, who will spend at least five and six years behind bars for their respective, lesser involvement.

Higher-up Jason Cornell Onley awaits sentence, as does Adam Cranston, the scheme architect who brought its notoriety.

Cranston's father was deputy commissioner of the tax office while his son defrauded taxpayers, lavishing their funds on luxury trinkets and properties.

"You've got a lot of f***ing cars mate," Michael Cranston told his son as he defended the legitimacy of his increasingly visible ill-gotten wealth, shortly before arrests in May 2017.

The elder Cranston was acquitted in 2019.

Cranston and Onley are scheduled to commence sentencing in August.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.