It seemed an innocuous enough letter, striking a jaunty note amid the dry accounting and legal talk. It is to Paul Hogan from his American manager, Douglas Urbanski, in Los Angeles, and it stands out from the reams of technical detail on the file like a brightly coloured toucan amid a flock of dun-coloured hens.”Dear Paul,” Urbanksi writes on May 3, 2005. ”Further to our conversation last night, I want to reiterate in writing how important this matter is …”The simple fact is that while the world consolidates in many ways, I can not stress strongly enough the need for the physical presence of celebrities to be available where the heart of their business is taking place. The importance of having yourself, as well as our other internationally known celebrity clients, present and available in Los Angeles is more important than ever.”Hogan’s return to Los Angeles is ”an essential tool toward our pursuit of all of the Paul Hogan endeavours worldwide”, Urbanksi adds with a flourish.Just why this letter, revealed for the first time this week, ended up in a file painstakingly assembled by the Australian Crime Commission as part of its Wickenby investigation into suspected tax fraud is a long story.But the short answer lies in a note composed days earlier by the Ernst and Young tax adviser Marcus Davis. Headed ”Paul Hogan Tax Residency” and dated April 19, 2005, it outlines Hogan’s plans to take himself, his wife, Linda Kozlowski, and son, Chance, back to the US to live after three years spent in Australia between July 2002 and June 2005. Davis finds it pertinent to observe that ”Paul has been advised by his manager and other professional advisers that if he wishes to continue his career, he will need to relocate to the US”.Handwritten next to this someone has noted ” letter to come”. Sure enough, Urbanski’s letter arrives, two weeks later. Urbanski flatly denied the letter was solicited by Hogan’s Australian accountant, Tony Stewart, to whom it was copied by fax or email. ”I don’t take instructions from Tony Stewart and I don’t listen to or follow instructions from accountants,” he snapped.But whoever assembled the ACC file must have thought the letter had some place in the mosaic of events affecting Hogan’s shifting tax residency status. With Hogan and his family crossing the Pacific first in one direction, then another between 2002 and 2005, the ACC investigators suspected Stewart of constructing a series of ”false residency windows” – periods in which Hogan was paying tax in neither country.And they suspected the strategy involved retrospectively re-casting Hogan’s move from the US to Australia in July 2002 as only temporary.Thus the ACC schedule of inferences, seen by the media for the first time in court documents released this week, states: ”In 2002-03 the tax advantage lay in telling the US authorities he was coming to Australia permanently; but in 2005 the tax advantage lay in telling the Australian authorities that he came here only temporarily in 2002. Both cannot, however, be the case.”The brief further claims that Stewart (codenamed A3 in ACC documents) ”ultimately intended to facilitate an assertion to Australian taxation authorities that P [the codename for Hogan] was not domiciled in Australia between 2002 and 2005”.Much then turned on what was in Hogan’s mind when he came back to Australia in mid-2002 and whether he genuinely thought he was returning for good. In this respect, the ACC also notes that Hogan and Kozlowski bought a waterfront pile in Vaucluse in July 2002, shortly after their return from the US , where they had been living for some years.Meanwhile, millions of dollars were swirling through a merry-go-round allegedly devised by Hogan’s tax advisers. In one instance, the ACC alleges, an offshore entity called Quatre Saison Trust transferred funds to another Virgin Islands entity called Trelene, which then paid $US5 million to a company called Silverstream Nominees for Hogan’s benefit. The money was allegedly transferred while Hogan was in transit between the US and Australia and was ostensibly for rights to a film never made, Crocodile Dundee IV. But Hogan has reportedly denied receiving the payment.Both Quatre Saison and Trelene were beneficially owned or part-owned by Hogan and were run by the offshore financial advisory outfit Strachans, operated by Philip Egglishaw, a prime target of Operation Wickenby.The ACC alleges that ”A3 [Stewart] and Strachans and Egglishaw through A3 provided financial and taxation advice to P … to evade P’s taxation obligations through tax evasion schemes promoted and facilitated by Strachans”.Other matters attracting the ACC’s interest relate to the tax treatment of a loan from one Hogan company to another.Hogan, his Crocodile Dundee partner John Cornell, and Stewart have denied wrongdoing and have not been charged with any tax offences, despite the length of the investigation.In 2008 Hogan said defiantly from the US: ”Come and get me, you miserable bastards!”Moreover, while the ACC still has Hogan in its sights on other grounds, with more to surface in the courts in August, the ACC has not pursued its claims against him based on the residency dispute. It is understood it notified the Federal Court in mid-2008 that it had dropped that part of its investigation.Nevertheless Hogan maintained furious attempts to keep the documents out of the media. That battle, taken up by Fairfax Media, the publisher of the Herald, and Nationwide News, went all the way to the High Court but ended in defeat for Hogan this week. The court said embarrassment was not sufficient reason to suppress documents that had been admitted into evidence.
Nanjing Night Net