Couple fined $15,000 for obstructing search of their home by Inland Revenue

Press Release – Inland Revenue Department
Inland Revenue has welcomed the sentencing of an Auckland couple last week following a search of their home last year.

Rosemary Julia Webb had been charged with deliberately obstructing Inland Revenue officers and Paul Nigel Webb had been charged with aiding and abetting his wife following a search of their home on 16 March 2011. Both were convicted and fined $15,000 each in the Auckland District Court on 11 December following guilty pleas.

Group Tax Counsel, Graham Tubb, said the couple deliberately withheld evidence that was being sought as part of an investigation into their tax affairs.

“The Court considered that the offending in this case was serious and that it is not acceptable to obstruct our officers during a search and withhold information. It was also made clear that tax system relies on taxpayers being honest and co-operating with the organisation.”

During the search, Rosemary Webb located and disposed of two external computer hard-drives and she also disposed of paper documents and files that were relevant to the investigation.

Inland Revenue’s investigation showed that Mrs Webb liaised with her husband through phone and text messages informing him that the relevant material had been disposed of and was not given over to the officers. These messages showed that he encouraged his wife’s actions.

“Inland Revenue always ensures that appropriate action is taken in cases of non-compliance and there are consequences for those who deliberately break the law,” Mr Tubb said.

“Searches are one of a number of tools available to Inland Revenue, however they are used sparingly, and when it is believed that people have deliberately not met their tax obligations.

“We will only search premises when we consider that it will increase the likelihood of securing records that are relevant to our investigation. Inland Revenue makes every effort to minimise the impact of searches on those involved and strict procedures must be followed at all times.” ENDS

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