Tax accountant who stole nearly $1.5m from clients and tax office to fund gambling addiction jailed

Tax accountant who stole nearly .5m from clients and tax office to fund gambling addiction jailed
Tax accountant who stole nearly .5m from clients and tax office to fund gambling addiction jailed
  • In short: Tasmanian tax accountant James Redmond Burrows stole money from 25 clients and the ATO
  • What’s next? Burrows will need to serve four years and three months of the sentence term before applying for parole

A former accountant who defrauded his clients and the Australian Tax Office of almost $1.5 million to fund his gambling addiction has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail.

James Redmond Burrows, formerly of Launceston but now living in Melbourne, pled guilty to 113 fraud-related charges in the Supreme Court in Launceston late last month.

The court heard he stole the money from 25 clients and the ATO by claiming dividends his clients weren’t entitled to, failing to pass on income tax returns, or retaining GST refunds for himself.

Burrows was sentenced by Justice Robert Pearce on Friday and told he won’t be eligible to apply for parole until he has served at least four years and three months of his sentence.

Justice Pearce said the offending occurred between November 2015 and February 2020, involving 300 separate acts of dishonesty.

At the time, Burrows was the sole owner of JRB Accounting in Launceston.

Justice Pearce said Burrows had little prospect of repaying the funds.(ABC News: Erin Cooper-Douglas)

Justice Pearce said the amount dishonestly acquired from each client ranged from $1,050 to nearly $300,000. Nearly $200,000 was stolen from the ATO.

“All of the money dishonestly obtained was gambled away or shuffled around accounts to replace other money which had been gambled away,” Justice Pearce said.

Justice Pearce described the offending as “sophisticated” and “devious”.

“The offending took place while you were conducting, apparently competently, a busy practice as a chartered accountant,” he said.

“You knew what you were doing was wrong. You knew you had a problem well before the offending even started but did nothing to address it.”

The court heard Burrows had a long history and a “family culture” of gambling.

“You were conditioned to gaming and gambling from a young age,” Justice Pearce said.

The court heard even after Burrows found out police were investigating, his offending and gambling did not stop until April this year.

Almost none of stolen money repaid

Justice Pearce said Burrows had shown elements of remorse and had written apology letters to his clients.

“It is a particularly serious fraud because of the number of people affected, the amount stolen and the devastating effect it has had on some of them,” Justice Pearce said.

“You were entrusted by your clients with access to very large sums of money and you deliberately and systematically betrayed that trust over a lengthy period.”

The court heard “none of the almost $1.5 million” of stolen money had been repaid.

“And there is little prospect that you will ever have the means to do so,” Justice Pearce said.

Burrows’ registration as a chartered accountant and tax agent has been suspended, although the court heard there was “little prospect” he would be able to be accredited again.

Burrows had no relevant prior convictions.

Justice Pearce made a compensation order for the victims and a reparation order in favour of the ATO for the sum of $186,747.66.

He imposed two sentences, one for the ATO Commonwealth offences and the other for the 97 state charges.

“The effect of those orders is that you will be liable to serve a total term of seven-and-a-half years from August 1, 2023 and that you will be eligible to apply for release on parole after having served four years and three months of that term,” Justice Pearce said.



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