Glenn Wheatley.
Glenn Wheatley.

A British accountant who helped set up a multi-million dollar offshore tax evasion scheme used by Aussie music celebrity Glenn Wheatley has been sentenced to six years' jail.

Philip Eric de Figueiredo, 60, played a significant role in setting up and maintaining the scheme which resulted in about $4 million in Australian tax payments being avoided, a Queensland judge found.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the commonwealth.

De Figueiredo will be eligible for release after serving two years and five months.

He set up offshore trust companies, created false documents and supervised the running of the scheme between 1999 and 2005 while an employee at Swiss accountancy firm Strachans, the Supreme Court in Brisbane was told.

The firm, through trusts, marked up legitimate tax invoices by as much as 2000 per cent for Gold Coast-based phone directory manufacturers Phone Directories Company (PDC).

Strachans channelled the inflated payments back to PDC directors by allowing them to withdraw it from offshore bank accounts using credit cards.

The company avoided paying close to $4 million in tax.

The firm later made a false claim to Glenn Wheatley for $700,000 and "settled" with him for $400,000, which was then funnelled back to Wheatley.

The directors of PDC and Wheatley have already been prosecuted.

Justice Debra Mullins said while de Figueiredo wasn't the architect or promoter of the scheme, he played a significant role.

She accepted he did not do it for financial gain and had gone along with it as an employee of the firm.

"It must make you feel very sad, the circumstances which brought you here to the court today," she told him in sentencing.

"The high esteem in which so many of your family and friends held you has effectively been betrayed."

De Figueiredo was arrested in the Channel Island tax haven Jersey in 2008 at the request of police working on Operation Wickenby, Australia's biggest tax fraud investigation into offshore schemes allegedly used by celebrities.

He fought extradition but was finally brought to Queensland in 2010 and had been living in the community on bail.

The West Australian

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