Issued: 28 September 2022
Last modified: 28 September 2022
Maitland tax agent, Michael Unicomb has had his registration terminated for serious misconduct which led to a criminal conviction in the District Court of New South Wales. Mr Unicomb was charged with a criminal offence of fraud in dishonestly obtaining property, a financial advantage or causing financial hardship by deception.
It was found that Mr Unicomb had, by deception, submitted false information about the income and assets of a former client in a loan application to Westpac bank. As a result, Mr Unicomb dishonestly gained a financial advantage for himself by receiving funds that the bank advanced under that loan. Mr Unicomb had pleaded guilty to the offence in the court proceeding and admitted that he had submitted the false application to obtain a loan of $1.16 million.
Following his fraud conviction, Mr Unicomb was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. He failed to notify the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) of this conviction and sentence, which is required by law. He also made a false declaration in his application for renewal of registration that there were no matters affecting his good fame, integrity and character, in circumstances where he had pleaded guilty to the fraud offence.
In addition to this criminal matter, Mr Unicomb failed to lodge his tax returns for multiple years by their due date. The TPB determined that Mr Unicomb’s conduct amounted to multiple, serious breaches of the Code of Professional Conduct, and on that basis, he ceased to meet the tax practitioner registration requirement to be a fit and proper person. He also failed to maintain professional indemnity insurance as required by the TPB. Mr Unicomb’s conduct demonstrated a lack of integrity and disregard for his professional and ethical obligations to act in the best interests of clients and undermined the integrity of the tax system and the professional standards expected of tax practitioners.
Considering the seriousness of the conduct, the TPB terminated Mr Unicomb’s registration and applied the maximum ban of 5 years prohibiting him from reapplying for registration.
Chair of the TPB, Mr Ian Klug AM said, ‘This decision reinforces our work to maintain the integrity of the tax profession and to instil trust in the services tax practitioners provide.’
‘Mr Unicomb’s behaviour was brazen and premeditated – he deliberately submitted false information in a loan application to a bank and only obtained the loan funds because of the deception he practised upon the bank. He also deliberately withheld information from us when he knew this would impact his application for renewal of registration as a tax agent.’
‘We will not accept this type of behaviour from anyone in the tax profession. Mr Unicomb has let the system down by making deliberate choices to disregard his obligations as a trusted tax adviser. This case sends a strong message to any tax practitioner doing the wrong thing and we will do everything in our power to protect taxpayers and the tax system.’
If you know of a tax practitioner who is acting dishonestly, the TPB encourages you to make a complaint using their online form.
About the Tax Practitioners Board
The TPB regulates tax practitioners in order to protect consumers. The TPB aims to assure the community that tax practitioners meet appropriate standards of professional and ethical conduct. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.