A FORMER president of the National Institute of Accountants has accepted that she will spend time in jail for tax offences unearthed by Project Wickenby, but says her jail time should be reduced due to her co-operation with authorities.
During a sentencing hearing yesterday, the New South Wales Supreme Court was told that accountant Lynette Liles, 65, had signed an undertaking to appear as a Crown witness at the trial next year of two of her former clients, Jane and Ronald Sakovits. Four other clients of Liles have already received jail terms, including the entertainment industry figures Michael Boughen and Wayne Cameron, who pleaded guilty to evading $1.75 million in tax.
Character witnesses, including a retired police inspector and a corporate lawyer who were clients of Liles described her as a ''rough diamond'', who had never suggested any ''sharp practice'' in their financial affairs.
Liles' barrister, David Price, said she had 1500 clients and only ten had anything to do with the tax evasion scheme through the Vanuatu firm Moores Rowland.
He said Liles told the clients in 2001 that it was tax evasion, however, the clients wanted to continue the arrangements, in which she prepared the tax returns. He argued she was ''trapped'' and could not extricate herself - a claim which was rejected by the judge, Justice Monika Schmidt.
Mr Price argued that Liles was not a ''promoter'' of the scheme, unlike the recently jailed Vanuatu-based accountant Robert Agius.
However, Peter Neil, SC, for the Crown, said Liles was the organiser and principal of the scheme in Sydney. Her criminality, while not the worst, was at the high end, he said. Justice Schmidt reserved her decision.