Lifelong friends Ron Sayers and Peter Bartlett denied knowledge of falsified documents at the hub of an alleged conspiracy to cheat the Commonwealth, a Supreme Court jury heard yesterday.
Mr Sayers said in a statement given to Australian Crime Commission investigators in December, 2010, that he could not recall signing documents or attending meetings about falsified transactions.
Mr Sayers told investigators he would have clearly remembered any such discussions and would have said in "no uncertain terms that I did not want to be part of the arrangement".
"I would have just paid the tax," Mr Sayers said. "I have never done, or attempted to do, anything illegal."
In another statement also read to the jury, Mr Bartlett said he could not recall a meeting in 2002 where the false transactions were alleg- edly explained.
Mr Bartlett, who was then busy running Barminco, said he had often signed documents put in front of him by trusted advisers.
It was not his practice to sign backdated documents, he said.
"I would not have knowingly signed documents containing false information," he said.
The statements were read to the jury hearing charges that Mr Sayers conspired with Mr Bartlett, tax scheme promoter Greg Dunn and accountant Deborah Grace.
The conspiracy allegedly ran from August, 2002, to July, 2004.
It allegedly kicked off with backdated resolutions to create a $7 million-plus interest bill for Bartlett and Sayers family trusts for the 1998-99 tax year.
Prosecutors claim the resolutions and subsequent actions were designed to protect a $50 million tax avoidance scheme that ran in 1999-2000 and 2000-01.
The scheme saw the tax bill slashed on profits the family trusts were receiving from Barminco.
The jury was told yesterday that Mr Sayers, the head of listed contractor Ausdrill, formed Barminco with Mr Bartlett and Mr Bartlett's brother, Tony, in 1985. Mr Sayers' 50 per cent stake in Barminco was unknown even to his lawyer, Ian Cochrane, until late 2001.
In his statement to the ACC, Mr Sayers said he wanted to remain a silent partner to avoid the perception of a conflict with Ausdrill, which was in surface contracting.
In a statement in 2005, he said he had deliberately not told his second wife about his silent interest.
"I had a very unpleasant divorce from my first wife," he said.
He had set up an offshore comp- any "purely for asset protection". There were no transactions of the type he understood were being investigated.
The trial continues today.