Aussie Home Loan’s John Symond used a tax-free $58m windfall to build his Sydney mansion
Aussie Home Loan’s John Symond used a tax-free $58m windfall to build his Sydney mansion, according to information filed before the Supreme Court this week as part of an ongoing dispute between the industry bigwig and law firm Gadens. But Symond denies media reports this could constitute tax evasion.
In an exclusive interview with Australian Broker, Fiona Hamann, senior manager, public relations at Aussie, says Symond commenced legal action in the NSW Supreme Court in 2008, claiming damages for allegedly negligent tax advice provided by Gadens Lawyers and Abbott Tout Lawyers over the course of several years.
He is seeking damages of approximately $13m plus costs.
Symond reportedly used the money, garnered from Aussie Home Loans between 2003-2006, before being audited in February, 2007.
However, Hamann says media reports released this morning failed to include key information. For instance, it is understood that Symond received an official letter from the tax office in 2007, clearing him of any wrongdoing.
Sitting on the Harbour foreshore, Mr Symond's Point Piper project has captivated Sydney's imagination since 2000, when the first DA was lodged.
“The tax officer found no wrongdoing by John Symond, which I did try to tell [media representatives]…There was a fairly crucial part that [media] didn’t mention, which was that there has been absolutely no finding of dishonesty or tax evasion.”
News Ltd reports that it wasn’t until after the ATO audited Symond in early 2007 that he paid tax on the $58m as part of a settlement of the dispute in which he agreed to pay a $568,450 penalty and $5.7m in back taxes.
Gadens claims Symond was aware his senior finance executives and lawyers had arranged a restructure of Aussie Home Loans so he could “draw money from the new holding company tax-free".
Symond says he never would have agreed to the controversial financial structure if he’d been told he was at risk of a tax audit.
In documents filed with the court and published by News Ltd, Symond claims he told his executives, David Makinson and Rob Wannan, "I can't risk any problems with the ATO. The last thing I want is for the media or the public to think I'm some kind of tax cheat."
Symond's claim against Abbott Tout settled before trial on confidential terms. The hearing of the claim as against Gadens continues.
ed to pay a $568,450 penalty and $5.7m in back taxes.
That interest has evolved into obsession as the enormous home-for-one has taken shape.
Located on almost half a hectare of prime harbourfront land, the Wingadal Place address comprises four terraced stories laid diagonally across 2685sq m of land.
The block has 75m of absolute water frontage.
The home – comprising a total 2200sq m floor space, boasts six bedrooms – five of which are on the third floor. All have ensuites.
The kitchen is on the ground floor, which is where Aussie John will do much of his entertaining.
Here also is the larger of the two pools – the second is on the top floor – along with a family room/entertainment area, a gymnasium and what's described in the development application as "associated facilities" but may indicate the presence of a panic room.
According to an insider who walked through the home before it was finished, the ground floor could accommodate 400 people.
Another source close to the construction said that door and windows alone would have set Mr Symond back well over $1 million.
The main living areas, both formal and informal, are on level two.
This is where guests can relax in the smoking room while cine-files enjoy the home theatre, described as a "screening room".
There is also an elevator, not the sort of feature Mr Symond's dietician would recommend as he passes the halfway mark in his efforts to shed 40kg.
Entry to Point Piper's newest mega mansion is via the fourth floor, which as well as housing guest accommodation, contains a library and cloakroom.
A garage capable of accommodating eight cars is also situated at the top of the property.
To build his home, Mr Symond first had to excavate 6400 cubic metres of material which at one point was going to take 2000 trips by 15-tonne trucks along the exclusive Wiluna Rd.
In the end, much of the material was removed by barge.
The extraordinary property is surrounded by balconies, not surprising given its outlook across to the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge but Aussie John hasn't neglected those who might take the time to lower their eyes, dropping a bundle on landscaping.
Dream come true
Value: About $50m
Land area: 2685sqm
Garage: 10 cars
Balconies: On all levels.
Gardens: Kentia and cabbage tree palms, Chinese elms, wisteria-covered pergolas
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