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Tax evader lifts director ban

Despite having defrauded customs for six years, a businessman from Dunedin was allowed to continue as a company director.

Paul Lambert Clarke (45) appeared in Dunedin District Court in July, where he was convicted of two counts of using altered documents with intent to deceive and one of producing false documents , a fine of $ 30,000 and six months in community detention.

As a result, he was automatically prohibited from managing or being a director of any company for five years, under the Companies Act.

However, he challenged this in the Auckland High Court earlier this month.

Judge Edwin Wylie overturned the ban, saying he was convinced that excluding Clarke as a director would lead to the total collapse of his businesses.

“If the authorization were to be denied, Mr Clarke would have little choice but to shut down the businesses, so the stock and the factory would be subject to a ‘clearance sale’,” said the judge.

Mr. Clarke’s business story points to a hardworking man who has enjoyed tremendous success in recent years … Mr. Clarke is clearly essential to business success. They are classic one-man bands. ”

Judge Wylie noted that the businessman now employed
33 people and had an annual payroll of $ 1.3 million.

While Clarke’s lengthy fraud resulted in him underpaying over $ 1.3 million in taxes, calculations showed he would only have benefited from $ 15,000 due to the GST refunds. .

The company gained a cash flow advantage over its competitors, Judge Wylie said, but the public was not directly affected by the violation.

The defendant’s company, PL Clarke Ltd, was involved in importing heavy machinery, which he would repair through another of his companies and lease.

In May 2019, a customs audit uncovered financial irregularities and agents raided the company’s offices in Kaikorai, as well as Clarke’s homes in Mosgiel and Cromwell, seizing a wealth of documents.

They discovered a rudimentary pattern whereby words and values ​​on import forms were masked with a white marker and others had small strips of paper glued to obscure the original value of the goods.

The fraudulent invoices meant that the imported machines would be dumped.

“The offense was not an aberration,” said Judge Wylie

It was premeditated and over an extended period.

Moreover, Mr. Clarke does not have a smooth past. He was convicted of a number of other offenses. ”

In court this month, neither Customs nor the Companies Registrar opposed Clarke’s request.

The ban on serving as a director was lifted, subject to a series of conditions, many of which gave a chartered accountant oversight of his or her transactions.

If Clarke breached any of the conditions, Judge Wylie said, the ban would be reinstated.

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