Jailed last week for a minimum of four years for tax evasion, Anthony Dante Castagna, the venture capitalist, cybersecurity company founder, professor and ex-Macquarie Bank director, regarded himself as a member of the “financial elite” who felt free to steal tax revenue from other Australians, according to Justice Christine Adamson, who also said the sentence was necessary to deter those who might regard the Australian Taxation Office as fair game and those who used obfuscation and deceit to avoid their tax obligations.
Castagna, the founder of the $500 million cybersecurity company Nuix, “used his undoubted talents and considerable energy to increase his own wealth and the wealth of those with whom he was associated,” the New South Wales Supreme Court judge said.
One of the ways Castagna had increased his wealth was by using sophisticated tax avoidance schemes run by his accountant and cousin, Robert Agius.
Castagna had arranged to hide income including million-dollar bonuses through false tax returns from 1998 to 2008, depriving the Commonwealth US$2.6million.
Australian Federal Police officers gathered evidence and intercepted telephone conversations between Aguis and Castagna talking about their tax fraud schemes.
Castagna is now being pursued unpaid taxes and penalties in excess of US$8million as well as facing the confiscation of a string of properties under Australian proceeds of crime legislation.
Nuix, which is majority-owned by Macquarie Bank, as of March 2018 had a market value of half a billion dollars. Castagna, who helped establish the company, has shares worth US$50million, which are held via an offshore entity.
Ironically, Nuix had won customers such as the US homeland security department and the British anti-fraud office, as well Australian Customs and the Australian Defence Force.
Written by Barnaby Dracup