Simone Semmens faces County Court over GST withholding allegations after prestige Melbourne property sales

Simone Semmens faces County Court over GST withholding allegations after prestige Melbourne property sales
Simone Semmens faces County Court over GST withholding allegations after prestige Melbourne property sales
A former Channel Seven Melbourne television newsreader has denied she deliberately withheld more than $1.8 million in GST payments during her property development days.
 
Simone Semmens faced a County Court of Victoria jury trial today after pleading not guilty to 10 charges of dishonestly withholding tax over a 10-year period.
 
The prosecutor Robert Barry said Semmens had purchased mansions in prestige areas, then subdividing and developing new properties on the land.
The case involved a property at Portsea, at Caulfield North and an earlier property in Toorak.
 
The Portsea mansion was Noorah which was bought for $7.5 million.
 
Rosecraddock, the Caulfield North mansion which cost $7.8 million in 2007, saw homes built within the curtilage of the 150-year-old Italianate mansion set on its then 8857-square-metre holding. It was the scene of the 2005 murder of eccentric millionaire Peter Shellard. Rosecraddock and its subdivided grounds were eventually sold, all up, for $17.4 million.
 
The Crown alleges Semmens knowingly didn't pay GST on them - failing to pay as much as $329,000 in tax per sale.
 
She had the Caulfield North estate subdivided into seven properties, had the Toorak home demolished and replaced with two apartments and had an extra two homes built on the Portsea land, and then sold all the developments at a profit.
 
Barry said the former Seven Network newsreader was aware of her tax obligations via communications she had with her bank and her surveyor.
 
Semmens was a beauty queen, including being crowned Miss Victoria Grocery Industry in the 1980s, and was also the one-time corporate spokeswoman for Telstra.
 
Semmens' lawyer Ms Ashlee Cannon said it was "hotly contested" that her client was required to pay the GST.
 
Semmens, a US citizen, had been pulled from a California-bound plane and charged with the multi-million dollar tax offences in October 2015. Her Toorak house had been searched by police and tax investigators in March 2013.
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