ATO whistleblower launches crowdfunding campaign for legal defence

ATO whistleblower launches crowdfunding campaign for legal defence

Australian Taxation Office (ATO) whistleblower Richard Boyle has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for his legal defence against 66 criminal charges totalling a maximum sentence of 161 years’ imprisonment.

The former public servant told ABC News that he will continue his fight against the “excessive and unjust” charges.

As part of the GoFundMe campaign launched today, Mr Boyle said his case may be the first to test whistleblower protection laws “and could be a very important case testing and setting legal precedent.”

Mr Boyle worked as a debt collector for the ATO until his employment was terminated in May 2018 after he spoke to a Fairfax–ABC investigation about debt collection practices at the ATO’s Adelaide branch.

He had previously made an internal Public Interest Disclosure to the ATO about problems he had witnessed with the agency’s debt collection process, which was dismissed by management.

In February 2018 the ATO offered a payout and a statement of service over an alleged breach of the Public Service Code of Conduct, on the condition that he did not speak to the media.

He rejected the offer and told the media investigation that some staff were instructed to seize funds from taxpayer’s bank accounts if they were assessed as owing the ATO money, regardless of their personal circumstances.

A week before going public on ABC’s Four Corner’s programme, Mr Boyle’s home was raided by the Australian Federal Police.

The charges against him include using a listening device to monitor a private conversation, recording another person’s tax file number, and disclosing protecting information.

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