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Jack Gramenz

Plutus trial approaches end in NSW court

The judge is summing up in the long-running Plutus Payroll fraud trial. (Margaret Scheikowski/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

An ex-pro snowboarder never intended to be involved in one of Australia's largest ever alleged tax frauds, his lawyer has told a court.

Justice Anthony Payne has continued summarising the case in the NSW Supreme Court on Monday as Adam Cranston, Lauren Cranston, Dev Menon, Jason Onley and Patrick Willmott face trial for their alleged roles in the Plutus Payroll scandal.

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.

Justice Payne has cited submissions from Onley's lawyer Russ Johnson that Onley was a "step back" from any conspiracy, not included in some communications and not giving orders or instructions.

Multiple witnesses gave evidence indicating they did not receive instructions from Onley or communicate with him.

Onley was said to be sleepless and stressed at a January 2017 meeting discussing the ATO garnishing company bank accounts, having been up since 4am checking his own account as he waited to settle on a Vaucluse property, Justice Payne reminded the jury.

The judge said the Crown submitted Onley had good reason to worry because he realised the money was tainted. However, Mr Johnson submitted the $1.5 million remained in an offset account for the property until Onley's arrest, not indicating the actions of someone who knew they were involved in a crime.

The ease with which money was traced to Onley was also proof he did not believe it to be proceeds of crime, Mr Johnson submitted.

He argued the jury could not be satisfied of Onley's guilt and there was a remarkable and extraordinary convergence of factors at key times which resulted in his involvement in the scheme.

Justice Payne will continue summarising the case on Tuesday before the jury is expected to retire to consider a verdict on Wednesday.

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