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Carl Williams widow in legal bid to stop ATO house sale

AUSTRALIAN BUSINESS REVIEW   December 12, 2018   Tessa Ackerman

Williams, left, and daughter Dhakota at the Supreme Court in Melbourne yesterday. Picture: AAP.

The widow of slain gangland figure Carl Williams has made a last-ditch bid to prevent the sale of her deceased father-in-law’s house, claiming the involvement of Lawyer X had tainted the process.

The property, in Essendon, Melbourne, which is listed for auction on Saturday, has been the subject of a bitter legal battle between the Australian Taxation Office and Roberta Williams, who is the executor of her father-in-law George Williams’ estate.

The Victorian Supreme Court yesterday heard George Williams pleaded guilty to trafficking methamphetamine in 2007 and the ATO issued a tax assessment weeks later.

Lawyers for Ms Williams told the court police informant Lawyer X had represented and advised George Williams over the years while acting as a police informant. “(Lawyer X) not only acted for our family members in their various legal proceedings (but) became our trusted friend and Adviser,” Ms Williams’ affidavit says.

Barrister Carolyn Symons said her client wanted the sale of the house delayed until after a royal commission into Victoria Police’s dealings with Lawyer X.

In her affidavit, Ms Williams describes her reaction last week to discovering Lawyer X’s role.

“My reaction was one of utter disbelief and horror,” she says. “I haven’t been able to sleep since.”

George Williams struck a deal with the ATO in 2013 whereby the ATO became the mortgagee on the property instead of him being forced to sell the home to cover his tax debt.

Williams died in 2016 owing more than $740,000 in unpaid taxes and the court heard the debt had since skyrocketed to “north of a million”.

Judge Steven Moore yesterday said there was no evidence Lawyer X was advising Williams when he made the tax agreement.

Ms Symons said the tax officer handling the recovery proceedings had previously been part of the ATO’s organised crime project which involved working with Victoria Police’s gangland taskforce. She said Lawyer X was a registered informant at the time of the tax assessment and the court could infer there were “some links” between the two. “(Lawyer X) knows something that can assist him to wipe that tax debt,” Ms Symons said.

Justice Moore said Ms Williams could issue proceedings against Victoria Police or other parties after the royal commission. “You say damages wouldn’t be an adequate remedy because Dhakota (Ms Williams’ daughter and the beneficiary of the will) would lose the opportunity to live in her family home?” he said.

Barrister James McKay, representing the ATO, said the application for an injunction had no basis and the submissions were “flimsy at best”. Justice Moore reserved his decision.

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