Man Facing 161 Year Jail Sentence For Being A Whistleblower Against The Australian Tax Office
A man is facing the prospect of 161 years behind bars for allegedly leaking details about the Australian Tax Office.
Richard Boyle will head to court today, charged with 66 offences, which include illegally recording phone conversations without the other party's consent and making copies of protected information.
He gathered data about the ATO after discovering some staff used aggressive debt collection practises.
The practice at the forefront is called a garnishee, which Boyle discovered was happening a lot last year. A garnishee notice is when the ATO orders a bank to hand over money from a person's account without getting consent from them.
Speaking to ABC's Four Corners earlier this year, Richard recounted what his workplace was like when these notices were being sent out.
"People were rushing around, there was a lot of paperwork, I wondered what was going on," he said.
"We were instructed quite clearly and categorically to start issuing standard garnishees on every case.
"The motivation appeared to be that we were just collecting revenue before the end of the financial year and it didn't matter if we hurt members of the community."
Clearly disgusted with the practice being put in place for every case, Boyle first went to his superiors with his information and he was told to let it go. When he persisted, Boyle alleges the ATO offered him a settlement as long as he signed a gag order, which prevented him from speaking about what he knew.
Richard then took the bold step and went public to the ABC. That move saw his house raided by the Australian Federal Police early in the morning without his prior knowledge.
He told the ABC as officers were going through his drawers: "This is an astonishing use of public resources, to investigate someone who has passionately and with every fibre of my being tried to assist taxpayers in meeting their tax obligations and to enforce taxpayers who are ripping the country off by not paying their fair share of tax."
He's told the national broadcaster that he's been in a state of panic since the raid and his upcoming trial.
There are calls from within Parliament House to get Mr Boyle's name cleared, but whether that will come in time is another question.
An ATO spokesperson told the ABC: "The ATO cannot comment on
prosecution decisions, which are made by the CDPP, however, we note that the
charges relating to Mr Boyle concern the alleged disclosure of confidential
taxpayer information, recording and disclosing tax file numbers, and the use of
Featured Image Credit: ABC/7:30