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Obeid wives hit with $8 million tax bill

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المصدر: The Sydney Morning Herald
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Tax bill: Judy Obeid at her Hunters Hill home.

Although they each list their occupation as "housewife", six members of the Obeid clan have been hit with a combined tax bill of almost $8 million, according to documents filed in the NSW Supreme Court.

 

The Australian Tax Office says family matriarch Judy Obeid, the wife of corrupt former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, owes $1.86 million for the financial years 2010-2011, 2011-12 and 2012-13.

 

Mrs Obeid's bill includes more than $500,000 in penalties and interest payments.

The ATO is pursuing Mrs Obeid, two daughters and three daughters-in-law in the Supreme Court.

In July 2013, the Independent Commission Against Corruption made corruption findings against Mr Obeid, his son Moses and former mining minister Ian Macdonald.

 

This followed a sensational corruption inquiry which revealed that at the end of 2010 some $30 million from a corrupt coal deal flowed through a maze of Obeid family trusts and then on to members of the family via tax-free loans.

 

In recommending the ATO investigate, the ICAC report said it would be "open to the Tax Office to infer from the manner in which the trusts were operated that they were a sham" and that if the payments were not loans, they would be taxable as trust distributions.

 

The black money – coal profits – were used by Mr and Mrs Obeid and their nine children, none of whom work outside the family businesses, to maintain affluent lifestyles which included buying luxury houses, fast cars and a seaside penthouse for family holidays.

 

Only a fortnight after the ICAC report was tabled in Parliament, the ATO hit the Obeid clan with amended tax assessments.

 

According to the Supreme Court documents, the year of the coal windfall – the 2010-2011 financial year – was the most profitable for the Obeids. Paul Obeid's wife, Lucia, has been issued with an amended tax liability of $918,726 for that year. Her mother-in-law, Judy, had a similar liability as did her sisters-in-law Carol, who is married to Damian Obeid, and Maree, married to Eddie jnr.

 

The ATO is pursuing the four women for total tax liabilities of about $1.83 million each.

 

The Obeids' youngest child Rebecca Joummaa has been hit with a $452,000 tax bill while her sister Gemma Vrana's bill is $101,335.

 

The Supreme Court action, which will be back in court on April 15, has been initiated by the ATO. It comes on top of a separate stoush in the Federal Court where nine members of the Obeid clan are contesting their tax assessments.

 

Surprising omissions are Eddie Obeid and his entrepreneurial son Moses, who are not part of any action against the ATO.

 

The existence of the Obeid family trusts first came to light in 2012 when Moses Obeid claimed he didn't have the means to pay a $12 million debt to the City of Sydney.

 

Justice Peter Young said he could have "very little confidence" in the evidence of Moses Obeid and his brother Paul and noted the Obeids appeared to exemplify the doctrine, "How to live well on nothing a year", from the classic novel Vanity Fair.

 

Despite having a taxable income of $100,000 a year - and his wife Nicole $80,000 - the pair lived a sumptuous lifestyle, drove his and hers Land Rovers, employed a maid, met their annual mortgage payments of $210,000 on a $4.5 million Vaucluse mansion and still had $800,000 a year left over for living expenses. It was discovered that the money was coming from the Obeid family trusts.

 

المصدر: The Sydney Morning Herald

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