Lauren Cranston is declared guilty in a conspiracy to siphon 5 million

Lauren Cranston is declared guilty in a conspiracy to siphon $105 million

Lauren Anne Cranston, daughter of a former Tax Office deputy commissioner, was found guilty of involvement in a conspiracy to siphon $105 million from a payroll business after her brother and two others were convicted.

She faced trial in the NSW Supreme Court, denying conspiring with another to dishonestly cause a loss to the Commonwealth and conspiring to deal with more than $1 million believed to be the proceeds of crime.

Her brother, Adam Cranston, was found guilty of the same charges last week, along with former solicitor Dev Menon and former professional snowboarder Jason Onley. Lauren Cranston began sobbing in court on Monday afternoon after the jury found her guilty of both charges.

The charges arose from a police investigation called Operation Elbrus, which recorded many conversations and telephone calls involving the accused from late 2016.

The Crown had alleged the five accused agreed upon a scheme with others to not remit 100 per cent of PAYG and GST to the ATO from clients of the payroll business Plutus Payroll, siphoning $105 million between March 2014 and May 2017. The tax debt was alleged to have been held by second-tier companies with vulnerable people installed as straw directors.

The Crown argued that Lauren Cranston was involved in manual tasks such as processing payroll, including not remitting the correct PAYG and GST to the ATO.

Prosecutors said any suggestion that she knew nothing was a drastic understatement as she attended meetings about the scheme and used tens of thousands of Plutus dollars on a property in Picton.

Defence barrister Troy Anderson argued his client was “doing her job” and believed she was paying sufficient tax, based on the instructions of Menon and her brother. He said she was not part of any conspiracies if they existed.


Jurors continue to deliberate in the case of Patrick Willmott, who faced trial on the same two charges. Willmott was alleged to have been involved from the start managing inaugural second-tier company Keystone. His barrister Luke Brasch argued his client was not a party to either conspiracy and, if they existed, he did not know about them.

The Cranston siblings are the children of former ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston, who the jury was told was not accused of any wrongdoing.

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