Getting tough on fraud
KINGSTON – AN information technology (IT) technician is now before the court while several others, including business operators, are said to be under investigation for allegedly defrauding Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) of more than JA$1 billion in revenue.
TAJ said yesterday that it will ensure all involved in the massive billion-dollar revenue theft, for which the IT technician has been charged, are brought to justice.
At the same time, the body, through Acting Commissioner General Ainsley Powell, said no efforts will be spared in recovering the lost revenue.
“Tax Administration Jamaica has cooperated fully with the [Revenue Protection Division] throughout this investigation and we will continue in our efforts to ensure that persons involved in these breaches are properly held accountable,” Powell said in a release to the media yesterday.
“… We wish to advise those involved that this will also include any additional interest and penalties which may have accrued,” Powell said.
The accused IT technician, Christopher Moore, 37, was arrested on June 20 when the Revenue Protection Division (RPD), supported by the police’s Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA), conducted a pre-dawn operation at eight locations across the Corporate Area and St Catherine.
Moore was charged under Sections 3 (1) and 6 (1) of the Cybercrimes Act for unauthorised access to computer program or data and unauthorised interception of computer function or service.
Moore, on Monday, made his first appearance in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court since his arrest and was remanded into police custody until July 21, when he will again appear in court.
The operation in which Moore was arrested was a culmination of a year of intensive investigation by the RPD into tax evasion, tax fraud and breaches of the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) Act of 2013, the Cybercrimes Act 2010.
No details were given about the particulars of the illegal operation in which Moore is implicated.
The press release quoted Major (retired) Johanna Lewin, commissioner of the Revenue Protection Division, as saying that the investigation is “indicative of the type of work that needs to continue to be done in order to stem the perpetration of unlawful acts”.
He added: “These unlawful acts represent a significant threat to the revenue and ultimately the health and strength of our nation.”
Meanwhile, Financial Secretary Devon Rowe has also commended Moore’s arrest and the investigation saying that it signals “the Ministry of Finance’s zero-tolerance approach to corruption and fraud”.
“Any effort at deterring and plugging attempts to siphon off the revenue is stoutly supported by the Ministry of Finance and Planning. Any successful action which assists in bringing to justice those persons who by their deliberate and unlawful actions are a serious threat to the revenue is welcomed as the Government of Jamaica has no desire to increase the tax burden on law-abiding and compliant citizens,” he said. (Observer)