THE Crocodile Dundee star Paul Hogan allegedly committed tax fraud by deliberately misleading both Australian and American tax authorities about his residency status.According to confidential documents released yesterday, the actor, 70, was allegedly in effect ”stateless”, telling the US authorities he was paying tax in Australia while simultaneously telling the Tax Office he was paying tax in the US.The details of Hogan’s allegedly fraudulent tax arrangements were released yesterday after he lost a High Court battle to keep secret 108 pages of confidential advice from the accountancy firm Ernst & Young and his former accountant Tony Stewart.In unanimously dismissing Hogan’s appeal, the High Court also granted access to the Australian Crime Commission’s outline of its case against the actor.The commission alleges that Hogan tried to mislead tax authorities on both sides of the Pacific and did so “with the intention of committing crimes of fraud, including breaches of taxation laws”.One of the undeclared payments being investigated is $5 million paid to Hogan on July 18, 2002. The crime commission classified the payment as potentially a ”sham transaction”.It was paid to Hogan through a complicated series of offshore trusts and through his company Trelene Investments, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands.The $5 million payment was purported to be for the purchase of the rights of Crocodile Dundee IV, a film that was never made.Hogan returned to Australia to live in 2002, before deciding to return to the US in June 2005.According to the crime commission, Hogan was ”stateless” for periods in 2002 and 2005 for the purpose of avoiding tax. During those times, he received millions of dollars from trusts based in tax havens, which he declared to neither country.”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 commission alleges.Hogan, his business partner John ”Strop” Cornell and the Sydney accountant Tony Stewart, have been accused by the commission of using overseas accounts to keep tens of millions of dollars in profits away from the Tax Office.The three have maintained their innocence throughout a hard-fought, five-year legal battle.In mid-2008, Hogan, who lives in the US and has said he paid Australia more tax than he could have, told the Tax Office to ”come and get me, you miserable bastards”.Fairfax Media, the publisher of the Herald, and Nationwide News asked to see the secret dossier in 2008.Hogan fought the application all the way to the High Court. After the decision yesterday he was forced to pay both companies’ legal costs.It is not known how much Hogan’s challenge would have cost, but as one source said: ”It’ll be a massive whack.”The Ernst & Young dossier was seized along with thousands of other documents during raids on accounting firms and the homes of accountants in 2005.Cornell and Hogan are believed to have made as much as $150 million from the Crocodile Dundee films, which grossed more than $500 million at box offices worldwide.Cornell produced and co-wrote the first film and produced and directed the second one, and shared a company, GB Film Finance, with Hogan.Mr Stewart managed the pair’s huge income between 1997 and the mid-2000s.The Hogan investigation is one arm of the continuing work of Project Wickenby, a joint Tax Office and Australia Crime Commission investigation initiated in early 2006 into overseas tax evasion, money laundering and concealment of income and assets.Fifty-seven people have been charged and almost $500 million in tax collected under the project, according to the commission.
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