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    Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for State Development and Trade
    The Honourable Andrew Fraser

    Crackdown nabs property fraudster

    Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for State Development and Trade
    The Honourable Andrew Fraser

    Sunday, March 06, 2011

    Crackdown nabs property fraudster

    A State Government crackdown on stamp duty fraud has netted a former Gold Coast lawyer who attempted to defraud the state of around $300,000.

    Treasurer Andrew Fraser said Michael Dermott Yarwood has received a 4½ year jail sentence for offences involving the misappropriation of money provided by his clients for the payment of stamp duty on the purchase of real property or businesses.

    Mr Yarwood pleaded guilty in the District Court in Brisbane to one count of uttering false documents and two counts of dishonestly applying money, on a number of occasions between 2004 and 2007.

    "This conviction serves as a warning to any other fraudulent solicitors attempting to defraud the state," Mr Fraser said.

    "The vast majority of individuals and businesses in Queensland do the right thing and abide by our taxation laws.

    "We will not stand idly by and allow individuals to abuse the law and not pay their fair share."

    Judge O'Brien sentenced Mr Yarwood to 4 ½ years in jail, suspended after serving 18 months. In sentencing Mr Yarwood, Judge O'Brien referred to the high level of honesty expected of a solicitor.

    Mr Fraser said that Queensland Treasury is in discussions with the Queensland Law Society regarding the recovery from the Queensland Law Society Fidelity Fund of the moneys misappropriated by Mr Yarwood.

    The offences were committed by Mr Yarwood prior to the introduction of the Office of State Revenue's new computer system.

    "The new system has greatly enhanced the ability of the Office of State Revenue to quickly detect fraudulent activity in relation to stamp duty on land transactions, enabling prompt action to be taken to recover the money and prosecute the offenders," Mr Fraser said.

    Mr Fraser said that he strongly supports the Office of State Revenue aggressively pursuing and arranging for the prosecution of solicitors who misappropriate funds given to them by clients to pay stamp duty on transactions.

    "Solicitors are in a position of trust, and where they abuse that trust they will be pursued to the full extent of the law. This decision demonstrates that lengthy jail sentences can be expected for fraudulent conduct.

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