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Jack Gramenz

Plutus tax fraud trial drawing to close

Lauren and Adam Cranston have been on trial since April over the Plutus Payroll tax scheme. (James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

A mammoth criminal trial of five people accused of involvement in one of Australia's biggest tax frauds is nearing a jury verdict.

In the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Anthony Payne continued summarising the case against Adam Cranston, Lauren Cranston, Dev Menon, Jason Onley and Patrick Willmott for their alleged roles in the Plutus Payroll scheme.

The court has been told the financial services group was behind a scheme to withhold more than $105 million from the tax office over three years, using a number of second-tier companies.

The unpaid taxes allegedly funded lavish lifestyles featuring fast cars, aeroplanes and properties.

The trial began in April 2022 with members of the group facing charges including conspiring to defraud the commonwealth and dealing with proceeds of crime.

Crown prosecutors have submitted that Adam Cranston was largely in charge of the scheme, being the director of the company that purchased Plutus Payroll and giving instructions to other co-accused.

In his summing up, Justice Payne cited Cranston's barrister John Stratton SC's submission that his client did not intend to commit the crimes he has been accused of.

Cranston was lied to about the profitability of Plutus before it was purchased, and may have been the victim of a fraud committed by more skilled scammers, Mr Stratton submitted.

Cranston believed Plutus could be turned into a profitable business after finding out it was not, and the Crown had no answer for why Cranston was falsely told it was making money if he had been in on the scam as well, Mr Stratton argued.

Cranston's solicitor at the time, Menon, had repeatedly advised him laws were complied with.

The Crown argued Menon was not giving legal advice, but rather advising how to avoid detection.

It has also submitted Onley was similarly involved in guiding concealment of the scheme.

Menon's barrister Peter Bruckner submitted at least one witness presented elaborate and false evidence, while Menon's evidence was frequently corroborated by other evidence.

The Crown has suggested the jury disregard Menon's own "unbelievable" evidence, alleging he was an important and active participant in the scheme.

Mr Bruckner submitted the Crown had cherrypicked discussions and that Menon had been concerned with paying debts once he learned of them.

"I don't give a f*** as long as the taxes are paid," Menon was quoted as saying.

Menon also complained when his advice was not followed, and had told the court about how, when and why he had told lies, Mr Bruckner submitted.

Justice Payne's summation will continue next week.

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