Industrial services organisation Tutt Bryant Group Limited – which is owned by one of Singapore’s richest families – has reportedly received $5.4 million in JobKeeper payments, despite its revenue grew more than 15 per cent.
The JobKeeper wages subsidy program is designed by the Australian Government to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to cover the costs of their employees’ wages to enable more employees to retain their job.
Under the scheme, businesses initially received $1,500 per fortnight for each eligible employee. But the entity needs to show at least a 30 per cent fall in turnover to be qualified.
Thousands of companies have claimed JobKeeper payments despite their turnover rising during the pandemic, one of them is Tutt Bryant Group, which is fully controlled by Singaporean company Tat Hong Holdings – a privately held company.
Though it was legal under the design of the JobKeeper rules for companies to claim the subsidy and subsequently post an increase in profits.
According to ABC’s report on Thursday (9 Sep), Tutt Bryant’s latest financial accounts indicate that the company received $5.4 million in JobKeeper payments, despite its profit increased $7.7 million and having dividends of $8.4 million being returned.
It revealed that Tutt Bryant Group recorded a statutory profit of $13.4 million for the financial year ended 31 March, which was mainly due to the group earning a 15.5 per cent increase in consolidated revenue to $287 million.
ABC quoted the group’s accounts saying that the downturn expected in construction did not occur in the financial year 2021, given that it was allowed to operate nationally even though there were lockdowns in major states.
“The Group has and is expected to continue to benefit from significant Government investment and spending initiatives to stimulate the economy to counter the effects of COVID-19,” said Tutt Bryant Group’s accounts.
“This has contributed to the Equipment Sales Division achieving a record sales performance in FY21 and record sales order book levels,” it added.
Of those $8.4 million dividend payments, $3.03 million was “declared and paid by the Company for the 2019 year in March 2021”, while another dividend of $5,36 million was “declared and paid by the Company for the 2021 year”.
While the company stated that “the financial effect of this dividend has not been brought to account in the financial statements” for the year ending 31 March, it noted that this will be recognised in the “subsequent financial reports”.
ABC also noted that the accounts have shown no taxes were paid for the period due to a “timing difference”, and neither was there any indication that Tutt Bryant – or the family that owns it – have acted improperly.
Meanwhile, Australian Tax Office Commissioner Chris Jordan told a senate inquiry on Friday that small businesses who turned a profit while claiming JobKeeper will not be required to pay back $180 million in handouts which the tax office have made due to “honest mistakes”.
“We have determined not to pursue $180 million, mostly from small businesses, where there have been honest mistakes,” he said, as quoted by news.com.au.
“We have undertaken a comprehensive review of cases that forecast a decline in turnover and found the vast majority of taxpayers undertook the projected decline in turnover test in good faith.”
Mr Jordan noted that the tax office had recovered $194 million in JobKeeper overpayments to businesses so far, and intended to pursue another $89 million.