12 stories this week:


Vietnamese court jails environmental activist for tax fraud, Human Rights Watch raises concerns – 28 September 2023
A Vietnamese court has sentenced an environmental activist to three years in prison on charges of tax fraud, just days after the government discussed protecting human rights with US President Joe Biden during a state visit. Hoang Thi Minh Hong was accused of dodging tax payments worth 6.7 billion dong ($430,745) during the 2012-2022 and has pleaded guilty.


Shakira is accused of using an offshore company based in a tax haven to avoid paying tax. Here’s what we know – 30 September 2023
Singer Shakira will have her day in court after being ordered to stand trial on charges she failed to pay millions of dollars in income taxes. She accused of failing to pay 14.5 million euros ($21.6 million) in income tax between 2012 and 2014. Under Spanish law, people who spend more than six months in the country are considered residents for tax purposes. Shakira claimed that authorities only came after her, when they found out she was dating FC Barcelona soccer player Gerard Piqué, who is Spanish.


Who will benefit from AI? – 30 September 2023
MIT economist Daron Acemoglu states in this article that AI is often talked about as something that could replicate human intelligence and replace human work. But there is an alternate future: one in which AI provides “machine usefulness” for human workers, augmenting but not usurping jobs, while helping to create productivity gains and spread prosperity so they are more useful to humans.


The challenge of forensic accounting in the digital economy – 1 October 2023
Owen Hawkes is the forensic practice partner at KPMG in Singapore and a former barrister with the British Government’s Serious Fraud Office. He discusses how digital technologies are helping to answer challenging questions during investigations, improves the quality of evidence, but can also produce new challenges.


Should hybrid workers expect to be monitored? – 3 October 2023
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic there have been questions over the acceptability of using surveillance technology on remote workers. Research from 2021 suggested a vast majority employees weren’t comfortable with having their activity remotely monitored. Still, there are legitimate – and non-punitive – reasons for monitoring remote workers, including for cyber security purposes. The important thing, is for employers to ensure their monitoring – if needed – is done “carefully and for the right reasons”. If employees are concerned about workplace surveillance practices, they should ask their employer for a full description of those practices and associated policies.


Corruption Down Under (Part I): Australia, Not What It Seems – 3 October 2023
In Transparency International’s most recent report, Australia ranked 13th out of 180 countries (with a score of 75), up two places from the previous year. Corruption undermines a government’s ability to protect people and erodes public trust, provoking more and harder-to-control security threats In part one of this series, Calvin London explores corruption in Australia and its current anti-corruption efforts at a time when the country is becoming even more dependent on international trade.


PwC Australia tax scandal and its impact on governance – 3 October 2023
The Australian arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC Australia) has pledged to boost its corporate governance controls in response to firm-commissioned reviews faulting its culture for a leak of government tax plans. The firm has asked business executive Ziggy Switkowski and top law firms to examine how the leak had occurred and the firm’s wider approach to conflict management. The reports identify serious governance, structural and cultural problems and made recommendations for remediation.


Out of the shadows – 4 October 2023
Miles Mehta worked for years as a confidential source for Australian and American law enforcement agencies. He’s been on the run for the last three years. The 33-year-old’s aware of the risks of speaking out as an informant, but says he has nothing to lose. He believes the American agency he was introduced to by Australian law enforcement has turned against him. This is his story.


Maintenance man stole almost $200k from NDIS clients – 4 October 2023
Andreas Strepelias, a maintenance man admits he dishonestly obtained more than $191,000 from the Commonwealth through NDIS frauds, committed over a months-long period in 2018. He created false requests for payments for services he purportedly provided for 50 NDIS participants.


Melbourne fraudster Terence ‘Rio’ Nugara jailed for a decade over property investments scam – 5 October 2023
Terence “Rio” Nugara was living a rich man’s dream, but it was funded by 38 victims of a $10 million fraud. The County Court heard he gained access to his victims’ bank accounts and self-managed superannuation funds, and then transferred their money to himself. He pleaded guilty to 35 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception and two charges of theft and has been jailed for almost 10 years


FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried is standing trial in Manhattan for fraud. Here’s how it’s unfolding – 5 October 2023
Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial has begun in Manhattan. He is facing eight criminal charges including wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit fraud. He has pleaded not guilty. He could face decades in prison after being accused of stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer funds to plug losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research.


Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange JPEX faces US$300 million fraud allegations – 5 October 2023
JPEX, the Hong Kong cryptocurrency exchange which collapsed owing more than $300 million and is the focus of a major fraud operation by the city’s financial authorities, marketed itself as an Australian-licensed operation and was registered to an apartment building in Sydney’s north. Hong Kong police have so far arrested 18 individuals in connection with JPEX and are working with Interpol to locate company executives.