How the ATO is catching more tax fraudsters

“We’re quite advanced with identifying criminal behaviour, in all manners. There’s probably a perception that just fudging your GST claims is not a crime but that is not the case.”

The J5 includes the Canada Revenue Agency, the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs and the US Internal Revenue Service. Australia’s involvement builds on traditional co-operation as part of the Five Eyes network.

Multiple convictions

Ahead of planned joint operations across the J5, Mr Vujanic said the ATO continued to benefit from co-operation with domestic partner agencies including the Australian Federal Police, AUSTRAC, the Australian Crime Commission and Border Force.

The ATO points to a range of recent convictions as signs of strong success, including the case of 58-year-old Melbourne man Jeffrey Harrison, who was jailed for four years for a $1 million tax fraud involving a transport business that had no commercial activity.

The ATO is working to stay ahead of offshore tax activity, cyber-crime and cryptocurrency offences. Greg Newington

In October, a 65-year-old New Zealand citizen was sentenced to five years and 10 months’ jail for more than $820,000 in fraudulent GST refund claims made while operating a business in Brisbane in 2014.

Earlier this year a Geraldton grandmother received a 12-month suspended sentence and was ordered to lodge 91 outstanding tax returns dating back to 2008, despite already receiving $50,000 in fines.

Last month a Sydney tax agent was sentenced to five years’ jail for tax fraud and money-laundering, after taking more than $75,000 from his clients. In that case, the ATO uncovered the fraudulent use of 16 tax file numbers to lodge false returns as well as money-laundering involving another 22 other people’s information without their knowledge.

Mr Vujanic said the ATO was working to stay ahead of criminal activity in offshore tax activity, cyber and cryptocurrency crime, meaning a higher probability individuals involved in criminal activity would be caught.

“Once upon a time if you were an individual claiming a GST refund fraud, you would be picked up by our analytics or risk indicators.

“That is still the case, but right along the spectrum to the most complicated transactional crimes that we look at, including organised crime, the current sophistication that we’ve got in our analytical tools is significant.

“These are signs that we are taking criminal behaviour, nationally and internationally, very seriously and that we do recognise that these individuals are becoming more sophisticated,” he said.

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Patrick Mahomes Is Setting the League on Fire as the NFL’s Steph Curry

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws an interception under pressure from Baltimore Ravens linebacker Za'Darius Smith (90) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Ravens defensive back Chuck Clark caught the pass. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Ed Zurga/Associated Press

Few athletes are must-see television. The Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes is appointment viewing as he changes the way the quarterback position and offensive game is being played.

Some athletes are just different from those who preceded them. Different isn’t a bad thing; it can be the best thing and change sports forever. 

Mahomes’ ascendancy is similar to Steph Curry’s rise in the NBA. Their respective sports have changed because of their gifts. 

Professional basketball is now a wide-open, three-point-driven and point-guard-dominated league thanks to the Golden State Warriors, who built their franchise around a prospect once seen as too frail to be worthy of a top-five draft pick. With his limitless shooting range, Curry smashed three-point records, and the league became more about spacing to counteract the Warriors’ lineups. 

The NFL is trending in a similar direction. 

The league has never been more offense-driven, with quarterbacks now serving as point guards on grass distributing the ball from numerous angles to multiple weapons with varying skill sets. 

Mahomes is leading the way, and it’s more than his league-leading 43 touchdown passes. It’s how those passes are delivered, the silly little plays made during drives and how he’s changing viewpoints around the league. 

His playground style is perfect for a social-media-driven world because he’s an instant viral sensation. What better way to understand how he’s changing the game than seeing how he broke the internet during Sunday’s 27-24 overtime victory against the Baltimore Ravens at Arrowhead Stadium. 

His no-look pass was Magic Johnson-esque and set the NFL world abuzz since the league and its fans have never seen a quarterback intentionally misdirect a throw yet still lace the pass with perfect precision. 

The throw itself is phenomenal. However, Mahomes’ pocket mobility to evade a pair of pass-rushers, reset his feet and then attempt the unimaginable is just as important to the play. 

Some NFL quarterbacks are no longer statues who need to deliver from the pocket when pressured. Mahomes, like multiple other young options, helps extends plays. His feet are a positive in both the passing and running games. 

The pass borders on wizardry, if it was something he never practiced. Apparently, Mahomes has been preparing for the moment since his days at Texas Tech, according to ESPN The Magazine‘s Seth Wickersham

The ability to extend a play is like a good shooter who can stretch the floor. There’s nothing more maddening for a defense than to do everything right yet feel completely helpless when the shooter still drains the shot or the quarterback escapes the pocket to make a positive play. 

Mahomes is already a master despite being in his first full season as a starter. 

The Ravens aren’t just any defense; Baltimore entered Sunday’s contest as the league’s best. It is talented at all three levels with rock-solid run defenders, ferocious pass-rushers and opportunistic defensive backs. 

In the play above, the Ravens had everyone covered. Mahomes continued to extend the play until he found running back Spencer Ware creeping along the sideline. 

According to BJ Kissel of the Chiefs’ official site, the Ravens allowed only 212 passing yards per game in their four matchups this season with the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees, Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger (twice). Mahomes had a cool 377 passing yards and made all of the biggest plays when necessary. 

Most quarterbacks struggle to handle pressure in tight games. Mahomes did everything wrong in the following play, yet it still worked. 

The quarterback shouldn’t be retracing his steps. He could have easily run for positive yards. Signal-callers are taught never to throw back to the middle of the field, especially when momentum is taking them in the opposite direction.

As good as the previous play was, it’s routine for Mahomes. He’s doing everything a quarterback shouldn’t do and still excelling, much like some ill-advised three-pointers Curry chucks that touch nothing but net.

It’s a natural gift others simply can’t replicate, but they’ll try. Only Mahomes will be successful, like when he reproduced the completely unorthodox approach to convert the biggest play of the season. 

On 4th-and-long with the game on the line, Mahomes rolled to his right, never broke stride and threw from an awkward arm angle and across his body only to lace a perfect pass to Tyreek Hill. 

Only a few quarterbacks in history could even attempt this pass with the remote possibility of it being completed. In fact, the odds weren’t in Mahomes’ favor, either, per NFL Next Gen Stats:

Great players aren’t entirely defined by the spectacular. Sure, big shots must be part of the lexicon, but great shooters must make the easy layups, too, especially in crunch time. Mahomes’ best throw Sunday might have been his last in regulation.  

At first glance, Mahomes made a simple throw in the flat to a wide-open running back.

However, he had to do so on fourth down with the game on the line while throwing off his back foot and accounting for an incoming defender’s outstretched arm. The pass could have easily been airmailed or not placed in the proper spot for the back to easily make the catch. 

Even difficult plays can be simple with the right talent pulling the trigger. 

The performance was the best of Mahomes’ young career and continues to build on an important league narrative. 

Professional football’s landscape is changing, much like the NBA’s has. What organizations are looking for and prefer is different today than just a few years ago.

Russell Wilson wasn’t a first- or second-round pick because many considered him too short for the position. Yet, the 6’1″ Baker Mayfield went No. 1 overall in April’s draft six years after Wilson heard his name called. NFL evaluators learned how to shift their viewpoints instead of continuing to rely on archaic scouting approaches. 

Offenses at the high school and collegiate levels predominantly run spread schemes in which their quarterbacks grow up playing seven-on-seven tournaments year-round while working with gurus to hone footwork, throwing motions and an overall understanding of the position. 

As a two-sport athlete growing up, Mahomes didn’t quite fit the bill, even though he did play in college football’s most pass-happy offense at Texas Tech and threw the ball 1,164 times during his final two seasons on campus. 

He didn’t need to fit into a neat little package that looked like the NFL archetype of a 6’5″, 235-pound signal-caller with a beautiful over-the-top release just like Curry didn’t need to be the next Magic, Jason Kidd or Chris Paul. Their styles of play set them apart, and smart evaluators took notice. 

The Air Raid offensive scheme, in particular, was a bugaboo for years. Mahomes played in a variant, as did Mayfield and Jared Goff. 

“Chiefs general manager Brett Veach, who is a far cry from the spread panickers of years past, told me his team didn’t even consider what type of offense Mahomes was playing in at Texas Tech before they traded up to draft him with the 10th overall pick in 2017,” Kevin Clark of The Ringer reported. “Rather, they just evaluated the player’s skills.”

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

This approach is a game-changer. It seems so simple, but it hasn’t been for NFL decision-makers. The NFL dictated style of play for decades. Now, influence is matriculating upward from lower levels to the pros. 

“The availability of all this information and game tape has brought football together. It really has,” Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said. “College guys are getting our tape, we are getting their tape, and there is a lot of cross-referencing going on right now. That’s why you’re seeing the two mesh together.”

Mahomes’ lasting impact as he experiences more and more success will be changing once-impermeable viewpoints. The Chiefs adjusted to him and continue to reap the rewards. An electric talent has been unleashed because Kansas City wasn’t scared to draft raw ability, develop it and build around his strengths. It allows its shooter to shoot. 

As a result, Mahomes and Co. are must-see viewing, especially when the quarterback is leading the fast break with a little flair.  

“It’s a quarterback-driven league,” right tackle Mitchell Schwartz said, per the Kansas City Star‘s Sam Mellinger. “And we’ve got the best going right now.”

   

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @brentsobleski.

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Heavy snowstorm brings chaos to US

Lauren (L) and Anna Farnham take a walk through the snow in their neighborhood on December 9, 2018 in Charlotte, North CarolinaImage copyright
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Image caption

A snow storm struck the US’s south-eastern states over the weekend

A heavy snowstorm has swept through the US’s south-eastern states, killing at least one person and leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

A state of emergency has been declared in North Carolina, with some areas reporting as much as 0.5m (18.5ins) of snow over the weekend.

One man died after a tree fell on his car. A search is under way for a driver whose vehicle was found in a river.

Thousands of flights were also cancelled across the region.

‘A dangerous system’

More than 300,000 people were affected by electricity outages in the Carolinas, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia on Sunday, while storm warnings remained in place in the south-east “especially North Carolina and Virginia”, the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a tweet.

The storm was expected to move off the coast on Monday, although the NWS’s lead forecaster Michael Schichtel warned it would continue to be “a dangerous system”.

“It’s slow to move off the Carolinas but a saving grace is that it won’t hit New England,” he told Reuters news agency.

In some areas, so much snow fell the weight brought power lines crashing down.

But the main danger appeared to be on the roads.

Almost 60 crashes were reported in Virginia, state police told local media, with the number rising to 500 in North Carolina between midnight and 11:00 local time on Sunday.

As a result, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told CNN the state’s “biggest concern” was not the snow but “ice making roads even more dangerous”.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Hundreds of road accidents were reported

The only death confirmed so far was outside of Charlotte. A second person was taken to hospital following the accident, WRAL.com said.

Several hundred miles east, in Kinston, divers were searching for another driver, whose tractor-trailer apparently crashed into the Neuse River.

Officials were alerted after debris was spotted on a bridge over the river, ABC12 said.

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Liberals believe election still winnable, despite grim polls

This, the party believes is because some of the swing away from the government that is driving the headline 55-45 result is occurring in safe Labor and Liberal seats.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who won his seat of Dixon from Labor’s Cheryl Kernot in John Howard’s famous come-from-behind victory in 2001, said on Monday the election was not out of reach for the Morrison government.

He noted Scott Morrison was a much better campaigner than Mr Turnbull who, in 2016, called a long eight-week campaign and operated at a lacklustre pace.

“I’ve been in Parliament for 17 years. I’ve seen John Howard in a much worse position than what we are at the moment and he came back,” Mr Dutton said.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said a messy Parliament reflected on the government – Liberal or Labor – regardless of who was causing the chaos. “I’ve always seen Parliament as a disadvantage frankly for sitting governments.” Dan Peled

“And I believe that Scott Morrison has many of the attributes of John Howard. I think he has the ability to communicate very effectively. I think he will campaign in a way far more superior than we saw at the last election in 2016.”

Shorten’s unpopularity

Mr Dutton said the entrenched unpopularity of Labor leader Bill Shorten also gave the Coalition reason to hope.

“People have a real hesitation about Bill Shorten; they think there is something dodgy in his background and that is the case,” he said.

“There are reasons – I think tangible reasons – that we can turn this around.”

The latest Newspoll result came at the end of a messy parliamentary fortnight for the government, which culminated in it spending the final sitting day for the year staving off an attempt by Labor and the crossbench to pass a bill speeding up the medical transfer of asylum seekers. Had it passed, the government would have been the first to lose a vote on legislation in the lower house since 1929.

Mr Dutton said a messy Parliament reflected on the government – Liberal or Labor – regardless of who was causing the chaos.

“I’ve always seen Parliament as a disadvantage frankly for sitting governments. Whatever happens, however messy it looks, the tough decisions that need to be made are always sheeted home to the government of the day.”

Labor would make the same point during the Gillard years, when the Abbott-led opposition would deliberately disrupt Parliament.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks Earn Tough Road Win vs. Kawhi Leonard, Raptors

TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 9: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles the ball during the game against the Toronto Raptors on December 9, 2018 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The Milwaukee Bucks earned a 104-99 win over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday in a possible Eastern Conference Finals preview.

Malcolm Brogdon hit back-to-back threes in the closing minutes, including one with 41 seconds left, to give the Bucks a lead for good:

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 19 points, 19 rebounds and six assists in the road win at Scotiabank Arena, helping the Bucks improve to 17-8 while going 8-0 following a loss this year.

Kawhi Leonard scored 20 points with eight rebounds, but the Raptors (21-7) still suffered their third loss in the last four games.

      

Giannis Must Be More Aggressive on Offense

Antetokounmpo is one of the most talented players in the NBA, and he showed his skill set once again Sunday in an incredible all-around performance against the Raptors.

Still, his ability to fill up the box score overshadowed another relatively quiet night on the offensive end.

The forward was unstoppable at times, attacking the basket with the same ferocity we have seen all year:

However, he still gave up the ball too often and only took six shots in the whole first half. He finished the game 8-of-15 from the field, including 1-of-4 in the fourth quarter. Brogdon made the clutch three-pointers in this one, but you’d rather trust the ball in Antetokounmpo’s hands if possible, like on the final dunk to seal the win.

If there is one complaint about the forward this season, it’s that he seems to be holding back when he could do so much more on the court.

Despite making 57.5 percent of his shots this season, the Bucks star is averaging just 17.5 field-goal attempts per game. This puts him on par with Tim Hardaway Jr., CJ McCollum and Donovan Mitchell instead of elite players he should be matching like James Harden and LeBron James.

Giannis only took 13 shots in a loss last game to the Golden State Warriors and entered Sunday averaging just 14.3 attempts per game in December.

Obviously, defenses are keying in on the Bucks’ best player, and the Raptors put a lot of energy into getting the ball out of his hands. Leonard spent some time guarding Antetokounmpo at the 4, and the double-teams in the post were often impressive:

With that said, the Greek star has the talent to score 30 or more every single night. Even with other options on the roster, he can’t be afraid to take over offensively if needed and carry his team to victory.

        

Raptors Are in Trouble Without More Production from Kyle Lowry

Although Leonard is the team’s leading scorer for the season, Kyle Lowry might be the team’s most important player, at least offensively. The four-time All-Star entered the day leading the league with 10.1 assists per game and often came through with big shots when needed.

Unfortunately, he has been mostly invisible since the start of December.

After missing one game with a sore back, Lowry had just 15 points combined over the next three games, shooting 4-of-23 from the field during this stretch. The Raptors lost two of those three games.

The point guard wasn’t any better against the Bucks, finishing with zero points on 0-of-5 shooting in a losing effort.

This showing was especially disappointing after Lowry admitted after last game that he was “too passive right now,” per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.

While he did add seven assists while playing strong defense, the Raptors need more points from their talented guard.

Toronto has one of the deepest teams in the NBA and can survive a few games without points from a key player. However, this has to turn around in a hurry, or the squad won’t have the league’s best record for too much longer.

Faizal Khamisa of Sportsnet noted the issue:

Serge Ibaka (22 points) and Fred VanVleet (19 points) each had strong games against Milwaukee, but Lowry’s struggles are a major concern for Toronto during this recent slide.

     

What’s Next?

The Bucks have a quick turnaround before their next game, facing the Cleveland Cavaliers at home Monday night. The Raptors will begin a West Coast road trip Tuesday at the Los Angeles Clippers.

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The Flash crossover recap: ‘Elseworlds, Part 1’ is topsy-turvy fun

After months of teasing and anticipation, this year’s Arrowverse crossover “Elseworlds” finally began with tonight’s special airing of The Flash — and boy, was it loads of fun! From the obvious humor of the body swap, to all of the Easter eggs and callbacks that the writers threw in, there was so much to love about this episode. I feel like I say this every year, but this first outing captured the excitement of reading comic book crossovers; however, its ambition goes beyond simply tickling your lizard brain.

Based on the first hour, “Elseworld” is definitely trying to do something different than “Crisis on Earth-X.” Whereas last year’s four-part extravaganza was very much about the spectacle and its timely story about punching Nazis, “Elseworlds” seems more concerned with telling a story that’s focused on the characters — specifically, the relationship between Oliver and Barry.

We begin with Dr. John Deegan (Jeremy Davies), who is busy presenting some crazy ideas to fellow psychiatrists. He suggests the only way to help patients is by turning them super with eugenics. Of course, his peers don’t want any part of that and walk out on his lecture. This opening scene does a good job of setting up how, well, pathetic his life is. But then the Monitor arrives, praises the bad doctor’s “vision” and gives him the Book of Destiny to rewrite reality as he sees fit. Things are about to get wild.

As we’ve revealed already, Deegan tinkers with reality and Oliver and Barry swap lives. In this new reality, Barry Allen looks like Stephen Amell and Oliver Queen looks like Grant Gustin, and they’re the only ones that realize they’re in the wrong lives. The episode wastes no time in digging into how humorous this entire situation is. From the look of sheer confusion on Amell’s face when he wakes up in Barry and Iris’ bed, to his inability to stop while running when he has to squash a break-in at Ivo labs, I couldn’t stop laughing. The same thing goes for when Barry comes to in Oliver Queen’s life and struggles with choosing the right arrow to shoot when he and Diggle try to break up a firefight between the Bratva and the Bertinellis. (This episode name-dropped so many things!)

After foiling the Ivo break-in, Oliver speeds to Star City and collects Barry so they can figure out what’s going. Given how weird the situation is, they turn to the people who are used to dealing with this kind of thing: Team Flash. Unfortunately, Team Flash doesn’t believe that they’ve switched lives and ends up locking them up in the pipeline. (ASIDE: One of the things I loved about this episode’s humor is how self-aware it was. Shortly before the guys are locked up, Oliver teases Barry about his and Iris’ “you’re my lightning rod” thing, and then once they’re in the pipeline, Oliver gives Barry grief for his secret prison, which more than deserved because the S.T.A.R. Labs prison is still pretty problematic. END ASIDE).

While trapped in the pipeline, they realize that they should jump to Earth-38 to see if reality is altered there. So, Oliver walks Barry through dislocating his thumb to get out of the cuffs so that he can disable the power dampener, and Barry teaches Oliver how to phase. Iris tries to stop them taking the extrapolator, but Barry makes an emotional appeal that convinces her to let them go, because love is stronger than reality and she believes in her heart that the man she thinks is Oliver is actually her Barry.

Next: The best music cue ever and Flash and Green Arrow meet Superman

After the success of Arrow, Barry Allen (a.k.a. The Flash) gets his own CW treatment in this comic-themed spin-off.

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Exclusive: See a sneak peek of Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck and more in Triple Frontier

It almost sounds too good to be true. Some of Hollywood’s most popular actors — Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal — are all teaming up for a heist movie.

In Netflix’s Triple Frontier, this who’s who of actors portray a group of former Special Forces operatives who reunite to plan a heist in a sparsely populated multi-border zone of South America. Having previously undertaken dangerous missions for their country, this time they’re doing it for their own gain. But when events take an unexpected turn, things quickly start to spiral out of control, testing their loyalties and their moral code.

Directed by Academy Award nominee J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year) and co-written by Chandor and Oscar winner Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker), the film is a gritty, new heist thriller featuring some of Hollywood’s best. The trailer debuted Sunday night during an NFL game, but EW has an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the cast on set.

“We’re really fortunate to have a cast that gelled together so well,” Isaac says in the footage.

Throughout the clip, many of the cast reflect on playing Special Forces operative and the level of commitment and intensity such a role requires. “It really comes down to brotherhood and camaraderie and feeling a sense of place in the world,” says Hunnam.

Meanwhile, Pascal and Hedlund close things out by comparing their antics on set and their male ensemble to being in a boy band. “They all wanted to work with me,” jokes Pascal. “I’ve always wanted to be in a boy band, and this is like being in a boy band.”

Watch the clip above for more. Triple Frontier will debut in 2019.

Related content:

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