Telco exec's $A27m bill

TIM HUNTER
Last updated 05:00 10/02/2013
Chris Tiensch
Christopher Tiensch was shot dead in Texas in September 2011.

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The former managing director of disgraced telco Plus SMS ran up a huge tax bill in Australia, documents suggest.

Garry Donoghue, who quit the company's board in 2006 amid a scandal over false stock exchange announcements, is named in an Australian Tax Office letter dated May 23 last year demanding money to satisfy a tax debt of A$27.65 million.

The letter, signed by deputy commissioner of taxation Robert Ravanello, seeks payment of "amounts you may hold on behalf of Garry John Donoghue".

"We are writing because [Donoghue] owes us money and you may hold money on their behalf," it states. "You need to deduct money from any account held by [Donoghue] to the value of A$27,650,045.81. If the amount you hold is less than this, you only need to deduct the lesser amount."

When the Star-Times contacted the ATO about the letter, contact officer Arlene Cupay declined to discuss it, saying the matter was confidential.

The letter was sent anonymously to the offices of the Sunday Star-Times.

Donoghue did not respond to calls seeking comment.

A former Donoghue legal adviser, John Henderson, said he had been working with Donoghue in the United States at a Seattle-based venture, Comverging, but the firm was now defunct and there had been little contact in nearly two years.

US corporate records show the registration of Comverging Technologies LLC was officially cancelled in September, 2011.

Henderson said Donoghue had telephoned him last March to say he had been in Australia but was leaving shortly, with the permission of the ATO.

The history of Plus SMS, whose shares were at one stage worth more than $250m, was tumultuous and tragic.

After Donoghue left, the company was riven by internal wrangling, with allegations from its chief executive Chris Tiensch that he was being encouraged to make positive announcements to inflate its share price.

The strife led to legal action between Tiensch and the company.

Tiensch, an American, was shot dead in Texas in September, 2011.

Lt Darryl Johnson of Port Aransas Police told the Sunday Star-Times the murder investigation was still active "and we don't comment on active investigations".

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation, which handles inquiries stretching outside the US, did not respond to a request for comment.

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- Sunday Star Times

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