Rainbow business director admits tax fraud

The director of a company providing marketing for gay and lesbian businesses has admitted 10 tax fraud charges.

James Logan Bennett, 35, the director of Rainbow Pages NZ Limited, admitted the charges before Judge John Macdonald at the Christchurch District Court.

He admitted nine charges of providing false or misleading information about GST returns to obtain refunds totalling $132,780. Not all the money was refunded.

He also admitted providing a fraudulent invoice for $161,000 to substantiate a GST refund of $21,000.

He was a director of the firm which was incorporated and registered for GST on April 15, 2016.

The company describes itself as “a socially responsible marketing platform that showcases Rainbow Friendly Business to the LGBTTQI+ community”.

LGBTTQI+ means lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, transexuals, transgenders, queer, intersexual people and others.

Bennett’s profile on the professional networking site, Linkedin, describes him as a financial therapist for a company in Sydney and then the senior manager of business services for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras from 2013 to 2015.

Bennett says he was the founder and managing director of Rainbow Pages.

Between January 2017 and October 2017, he prepared and filed GST returns for the company. Some of the refunds were obtained, and some were not.

IRD prosecutor Virginia Diefenbach said: “A total of $1,018,056 of false expenses were included in the GST returns resulting in a false GST component of $132,780. The defendant received $95,063 of the GST refunds into his personal account.

“During this time, the business was either operating at a limited capacity or not operating at all.”

On August 17, 2017, he amended a Rainbow Pages’ GST return to claim an additional $21,000 in refunds, but IRD had determined that the $161,000 invoice he attached to the amendment was fraudulent, she said.

Judge Macdonald remanded Bennett on bail for sentencing on June 21. He asked for a pre-sentence report that will assess his suitability for a home detention sentence.