MIL-OSI Australia: Phoenix Taskforce

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Source: Australian Department of Revenue

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About the Phoenix Taskforce

The Phoenix Taskforce was established in 2014 to detect, deter and disrupt illegal phoenixing.

We provide education and advice on how businesses can protect themselves and not break the law. We also work with specific industries and supply chains to close off opportunities.

Phoenix Taskforce agencies share information and use sophisticated data matching tools to identify those promoting or engaging in illegal phoenix activity.

We take action against phoenix operators by:

  • working together to disrupt their business model and make it financially unviable
  • removing their ability to operate
  • applying financial penalties
  • prosecuting the worst offenders.

The most serious cases are referred to the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce.

There are civil and criminal offences for those who promote or engage in illegal phoenix activity. This includes penalties for removing assets to hide them from creditors when a company is wound up. ASIC and liquidators also have additional powers to recover assets for the benefit of employees and other creditors.

Where we suspect phoenix activity we can also:

  • estimate liabilities for businesses that aren’t meeting their lodgment obligations
  • make directors personally liable under the director penalty regime for their company’s liabilities
  • retain refunds where a business has failed to provide an outstanding notification (didn’t lodge).

You can report suspected illegal phoenix activity by making an anonymous tip-off.

We are verifying the identity of directors through the director identification numberExternal Link (director ID) initiative. This initiative is:

  • helping to prevent the use of false and fraudulent director identities
  • making it easier for government regulators to trace directors’ relationships with companies over time to help better identify and eliminate director involvement in unlawful activity.

Additional funding

Along with ASIC, we have received additional resources to help target facilitators and pre-insolvency advisers.

We are continuing to work with ASIC to establish better data sharing and improved analytics capability. This includes establishing a compliance program to target individuals who promote and facilitate illegal phoenix activity.

Phoenix Taskforce results

Up until 31 March 2024, we have raised more than $2.25 billion in liabilities from audits and reviews of illegal phoenix activities. We’ve also returned more than $1 billion to the community.

Achievements for 2022–2023

In 2022–2023, we:

  • completed 2,967 audits and reviews
  • collected more than $107 million in cash, contributing to government spending on essential services
  • received more than 2,500 referrals of suspected illegal phoenix activity through the Tax Integrity Centre.

The Phoenix Taskforce also:

  • banned or disqualified 5 directors from being involved in the management of a corporation
  • shared 567 disclosures of information between agencies, helping identify those engaging in or promoting illegal phoenix activity.

Phoenix Taskforce members

The Phoenix Taskforce is made up of key federal, state and territory government agencies.

The current members are:

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