I’d rather go bankrupt than pay the ATO – Paul Hogan

Posted: August 31, 2010 in Uncategorized
Hogan smeared

Paul Hogan has vowed to fight to the bitter end. Picture: Renee Nowytarger
Source: The Australian

Hogan’s wife, US-based actress Linda Kozlowski, is too scared to join him in Australia while, after being hit with a Departure Prohibition Order, Hogan feels he is being kept a virtual prisoner in the country he loves.

“It is just so un-Australian,” Hogan said.

“Whatever happened to this country? Whatever happened to a fair go?”

Hogan has been the target of the Wickenby investigation for five years, with its focus on the use of offshore structures to deal with the flow of royalties from his Crocodile Dundee movies.

The actor has denied any wrongdoing and has never been charged with any offence.

When asked what he thought would happen next, he said: “I can’t pay 10 per cent of it, and if they keep me here, seize whatever assets I have . . . they can declare me bankrupt.”

If that happened, he expected that investigators at the tax office “will all high-five each other and say ‘We nailed him and did what we set out to do: strike fear into the hearts of the Australian taxpayer’.”

“Held for ransom”

On arriving in Sydney just over a week ago for the funeral of his 101-year old mother Florence, Hogan was issued with a Departure Prohibition Order banning him from leaving the country until his mammoth tax bill was paid.

“All I can do is assume I am being held for ransom,” Hogan said.

He added that talks with the tax office had failed to give him further details about why he was suddenly considered a flight risk when he had been visiting Australia, and had even made a movie here, while under investigation.

Despite the tax office’s probing into his personal and financial affairs, Hogan was polite, jovial and happy to answer questions yesterday.

His larrikin sense of humour was still there – but he was also serious about speaking out and proving his innocence. “You have no idea how much better I feel about being able to speak” Hogan said.

“Still, there are lots of things I can’t say because of the law.

“I haven’t had a bat, I have been fighting with two hands tied behind my back . . . thankfully, now I have one hand free.”

Despite the five-year investigation into his affairs, it was not until recently that authorities outlined to Hogan that they believed his “state of mind” back in 1986 about the use of offshore structures was based on evidence given to them by John Gibb, a former accountant to Hogan. Gibb told authorities he warned Hogan the structure was not legal.

The Australian obtained a copy of the outline of the case against Hogan – but also revealed on Saturday that this was only half the story.

In fact Gibb had earlier told authorities in a separate interview that Hogan had also received advice from a senior tax barrister who said the structure was legitimate.

The Australian understands this barrister was Graham Hill, widely regarded as one of the best tax barristers in Australia before being appointed a Federal Court judge.

It is yet to be explained by authorities why this piece of information about the Hill advice has been discarded.

Not afraid of jail

“It is all based on the word of a disgruntled, discharged, former employee,” Hogan said of the case built against him.

“Very disgruntled, very discharged.”

The tax office has compiled a list of companies apparently linked to Hogan, but the actor said he had never heard of them.

He said he was not afraid of going to jail, because he had not done anything wrong.

“If I was guilty, I must be the world’s dumbest tax evader,” Hogan said. “Instead of whipping off to a tax haven somewhere, I went to the US, where they have the Internal Revenue Service.”

Hogan has spent a couple of million dollars fighting the tax office but is angered that it has labelled him a flight risk and he is unable to return home.

While Hogan is enjoying spending more time with his children and extended family in Australia, his wife, Linda, is scared.

“Linda is not coming out here; she is afraid to come out here,” he said. “She said: ‘They can’t just keep you there – haven’t they got a Department of Justice you can appeal to?’ I said we don’t even have a government here at the moment.”

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