Former tax deputy’s daughter guilty over massive fraud

Jack Gramenz |

The daughter of a former deputy commissioner for the tax office has been found guilty over her role in a massive tax fraud.

Lauren Anne Cranston was found guilty of conspiring to cause a loss to the Commonwealth and conspiring to deal with the proceeds of crime worth more than $1 million for her role in the Plutus Payroll scandal.

She was arrested along with her older brother Adam Cranston and several others in 2017.

Following a NSW Supreme Court trial that began in April 2022, the jury was sent to deliberate on their verdict in mid-January.

They returned the two guilty verdicts on Monday afternoon.

The sound of tears filled the court after Cranston learned of the guilty verdict.

She will remain on bail until an application for her detention on Tuesday.

Three other co-accused were found guilty last week.

The jury is still considering the verdict for a fourth. 

Jurors in the lengthy trial were told the Plutus financial services group withheld tax from the Australian Taxation Office using a number of second-tier companies.

The fraudulently obtained money funded lavish lifestyles including fast cars, planes and real estate.

The jury was told Cranston, whose only other professional experience was working at a supermarket, once fought with her older brother about purchasing a Hyundai she wanted, because he wanted to buy her a Porsche.

Adam Cranston would use his father Michael Cranston, who was deputy commissioner of the ATO at the time, to find out whether the tax office knew about their scheme, the jury heard.

The five accused denied their guilt, variously pointing the blame at each other and saying they thought the company Plutus, which was named after the Greek god of abundance and wealth, was a legitimate enterprise.