A 56-year-old man has been sentenced to three years and three months in jail and ordered to pay over $150k in reparations after he fraudulently obtained and attempted to obtain more than $200,000 from the ATO.

Peter Garven appeared before the Sydney District Court on 30 May 2019, which heard that between October 2002 and July 2004, Mr Garven lodged three income tax returns in which he fraudulently obtained $102,504 in refunds and attempted to obtain a further $41,758. In doing so, Mr Garven claimed to have received more than $150,000 in salary and wages from the University of New South Wales, despite the university having no record of such payments.

The court also heard that between August 2002 and July 2004, Mr Garven fraudulently obtained $51,684 in GST refunds in his capacity as the sole director of Peter Garven Consulting and Garven Resources.

The hearing follows a tumultuous series of events which ensued after Mr Garven admitted his claims were false and vowed to lodge amendments in 2004. Namely, the ATO commenced an audit after the amended returns were never received. Mr Garven then failed to appear for his trial in March 2009, with a warrant later issued for his arrest. Mr Garven subsequently went into hiding and was registered on the missing persons list, before being arrested in 2017 in the Watagan Mountains.

Ultimately, the decision serves as an important reminder of the implications of failing to comply with tax obligations.