Businessman sentenced for tax evasion after claiming company not subject to New Zealand law

Businessman sentenced for tax evasion after claiming company not subject to New Zealand law
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A Rotorua judge has noted his astonishment at the actions of a Bay of Plenty man who claimed his company was not subject to New Zealand law and evaded almost $56,000 in tax payments.

Stephen George Gibson Clark of Opotiki claimed his agricultural and fertiliser business company, Probitas Systems NZ Limited (PSL), was vested in a Māori trust and therefore was not subject to the law - despite Inland Revenue repeatedly saying that was not the case.

He failed to supply the company's tax information to the IRD, despite multiple requests, evading a minimum of $55,919.58 of income tax and GST.

Before his trial for tax evasion charges, Clark claimed Inland Revenue should contact the Nga Tikanga Māori Law Society, a known anti-tax movement associated with a former PSL shareholder, Ewan Campbell.

Campbell was prosecuted for large-scale tax evasion in 2015 and imprisoned for four years and nine months - after which Clark assumed full control PSL and remained largely non-compliant in filing income tax returns and paying GST.

Clark also tried to claim Inland Revenue's officers did not have valid delegated authority to take legal action against him, but the claim was dismissed.

He was found guilty of six tax evasion charges following a five-day jury trial in December 2022.

Last week he was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court to serve four-and-a-half months' home detention and pay $30,000 in reparations.

In sentencing Clark, Judge Snell said he was astonished at the way Clark acted in respect of the court proceedings and said he had taken the matter to every legal challenge he possibly could.

He also noted the jury found Clark acted fraudulently "without any difficulty at all".