Mr Cranston said he raised this with Mr Oleson but that Mr Oleson had told him, “That’s not a conflict of interest.”

“What would you say if I said you didn’t raise it with Mr Oleson?” Mr Neil asked on Wednesday. “What would you say if I said you had invented this exchange?”

“I would say you’d be clearly wrong,” Mr Cranston said.

Mr Oleson was not called as a prosecution witness and it was not clear what basis Mr Neil had for the claim.

Mr Neil also clashed with Mr Cranston over his account of a conversation he had had with Adam in late January 2017, when his son showed him a letter the Tax Office had sent to Simon Anquetil, a business associate of Adam’s.

‘Harsh and draconian’

Mr Cranston said his son had asked him for the name of someone senior at the tax office that Anquetil could speak to.

“This was quite a usual practice,” he said. “Letters like this were frequently raised with me by tax agents, because they couldn’t get through to talk to someone in an official way.”

Mr Neil questioned Mr Cranston closely as to why he thought the tax office’s treatment had been harsh and draconian, warranting his further inquiries.

“I think you’ve misunderstood this document,” Mr Cranston said.

He said the tax auditor had assumed that a $75,000 bank deposit by Anquetil was income from acting as a consultant, assessed him for $139,850 including penalties for unpaid GST then garnisheed Mr Anquetil’s account to seize the money.

In addition the auditor imposed a penalty of $121,939 for failing to provide a Business Activity Statement.

However, Adam Cranston told his father that the money involved was payment for the sale of the Plutus Payroll company, which was capital and thus not taxable or liable for GST.

“Mr Anquetil wasn’t conducting a business,” Mr Cranston said. “The only tax being assessed was the $75,000.”

He said he was worried that the tax auditor had got it wrong, and asked Assistant Commissioner Scott Burrows to find out which area the audit was in.

Mr Neil repeatedly suggested that Mr Cranston’s motive throughout had not been to avoid bad publicity for the ATO as he said, but to benefit his son.

“You couldn’t be more wrong,” Mr Cranston said.

The trial continues.

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