A Sydney reseller has admitted in court illegally claiming GST back on computers taken out of the country on business trips when the computers were allegedly not personal purchases and not being exported from Australia.
The admission came as part of evidence presented to the Federal Court of NSW in a piracy case brought by Microsoft against Rhodes box builder PC-Club Australia on Friday.
David Lee, sales and marketing director and de facto managing director of PC-Club Australia, admitted under cross examination that he had made up false invoices for the purposes of taking advantage of the Australian government's GST refund scheme for tourists.
James Lawrence of Mallesons Stephen Jaques, counsel for Microsoft, asked Lee if he had made up an invoice from PC-Club Australia to himself, so it would appear a computer had been bought by him personally when he departed Australia on a business trip to the giant Taipei IT show Computex this year.
The refund would go to Lee's personal credit card, which Lee claimed he would then repay to PC-Club Australia.
"So you have not in fact purchased the computer. PC-Club Australia purchased it from the original Taiwanese supplier. So it was a false invoice. It was an invoice created specially for the purpose of getting the GST refund," Lawrence said.
"Yes," Lee replied.
Lawrence said that a witness for the prosecution, Hyundai MultiCAV CEO Aron Jackson, had travelled with Lee to Computex.
Jackson claimed in evidence that Lee had boasted that he took advantage of the GST refund scheme every time he left Australia, Lawrence said.
"Mr Jackson said that, at the airport, you said: 'every time I leave Australia, I make some money that pays my airfare. I just make up an invoice from PC-Club Australia and get the GST refunded to 10 percent of the purchase price, which is paid to my credit card'," Lawrence said.
"No, that's not true," Lee said.
Lee denied that he had tried to claim the GST every time he left Australia or even regularly. The false claim for GST to be refunded on computers was something he had done only once, he said.
International travellers can claim back the 10 percent GST on goods they purchase while visiting Australia when they leave the country. They can also claim back the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) on wine bought here.
Claims can only be made up to 30 minutes before the flight departs. Tourists must only present their passport, an original tax invoice, their international boarding pass and the goods in order to claim a GST refund.
However, David Lee was based in Australia and there was no evidence suggesting the computers involved had been left in Taiwan as would be necessary to further qualify Lee for the GST refund, Lawrence alleged.
The trial is continuing, with a decision on the piracy allegations made against PC-Club Australia expected around Christmas. Judge Richard Alan Conti is presiding.