Local Realtor in Australian Prison for Tax Evasion

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By edhat staff

A Santa Barbara realtor and Australian native is currently in a Melbourne prison for allegedly evading taxes on luxury home sales. 

Simone Halstead, also known as Simone Semmens, was convicted of evading $1.85 million in generation-skipping tax (GST) on the sale of several luxury homes in Australia. On June 21, a jury found the 58-year-old guilty on ten charges of "dishonestly causing loss to the Commonwealth," reports the Australian-based news publication, The Age.

She was sent to a maximum security women's prison to await sentencing after a plea hearing scheduled for July 30.

Simone Halstead (Photo: Coldwell Bankers)

Halstead was found guilty after a three-week trial where she was accused of evading GST on the transfer of 10 Australian properties between 2001 and 2007, even though she allegedly told her accountant and bank manager she was aware of the tax obligations. Halstead's defense attorney's argued she was unaware of the tax but a jury found her guilty of ten "dishonesty offences that each carry a maximum five-year prison sentence," reports The Age.

This isn't the first investigation into Halstead who is described as a former Australian beauty queen, telecommunications spokesperson, and news anchor who switched to property development ultimately becoming a socialite in an upscale area of Melbourne. An Australian Taxation Office audit in 2011 discovered debts, lawsuits, and more suspected criminal conduct. In 2013 one of her properties was raided and in 2015 she was arrested while attempting to board a flight to the United States. 

Halstead has allegedly been working in the U.S. since 2014, specifically as a realtor for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Montecito. The real estate website lists Halstead's California license and contact information boasting her trustworthiness. 

"With years of experience on both the selling and buying sides of many, multi-million dollar transactions she works with dedication and integrity to ensure her real estate practices revolve around her client's goals," the website reads. Halstead is quoted as saying "This is a referral business based upon on-going relationships, Simone continues. It's about earning trust, repeat business and testimonials in an industry, and a part of the world, that I'm truly passionate about."

An official statement has not been released by Coldwell Bankers, but The Age reports several coworker were not aware Halstead was in Australia facing criminal charges.

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PitMix Jul 01, 2019 09:17 AM
Local Realtor in Australian Prison for Tax Evasion

The possible max sentence is 50 yrs, but from what I hear the British based court systems are pretty lenient. In Britain they give you 12 yrs for murder unless it is especially heinous. So check back to this space on July 30 to see what the actual sentence is.

oops Jun 28, 2019 03:12 PM
Local Realtor in Australian Prison for Tax Evasion

Are you really surprised? With few exceptions, most realtors don't add any value, they are just leaches to sale/buy transaction. wow- maybe a rung below attorneys...hard to imagine a bar that low!

RHS Jun 28, 2019 10:18 AM
Local Realtor in Australian Prison for Tax Evasion

The culture of wealth is that the rules do not apply to the rich. Look at the college admissions scandals, look at Madoff's crowd, look at the Trump history. These people honestly believe, as was said decades ago by Leona Helmsley. "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." And, unfortunately this is increasingly true, especially with the help of corporate Democrats and Trump GOP.

PitMix Jul 01, 2019 09:14 AM
Local Realtor in Australian Prison for Tax Evasion

Facto, your depictions of vagrancy make it sound very appealing. No rules, free stuff- it's a wonder that we all haven't quit our jobs and stopped paying our mortgages and moved to State Street. I can't see any downside, can you?

CoastWatch Jun 28, 2019 09:28 AM
Local Realtor in Australian Prison for Tax Evasion

Too bad the U.S. doesn't do the same to white collar tax evaders- They just hire $1000 an hour tax loophole specialists to bulk and dodge paying their fair share of taxes... What a system.

a-1571535786 Jun 28, 2019 09:18 AM
Local Realtor in Australian Prison for Tax Evasion

at 9:06 - she is not "super-attractive," unless you find plastic surgery and make up to be attractive. To each his/her own, I guess. But, the more accurate statement is super RICH people get a pass... Why? Because you can look halfway decent and then be made "beautiful" with thousands of $$$ worth of surgery and styling. It's all fake. But if you're rich enough, even the most blah looking person can become an aging super model. Yuck.

Luvaduck Jun 28, 2019 07:35 AM
Local Realtor in Australian Prison for Tax Evasion

It's not smarts, it's information, due diligence, integrity and hubris: Did she know Australian law and break it, or not conform b/c she didn't run it by someone familiar with laws she should have known she wasn't expert about? Beautiful people have many opportunities to get by on appearance and charm. That gives them power. Power can be used wrongly especially if coupled with feelings of entitlement.

a-1571535786 Jun 28, 2019 07:28 AM
Local Realtor in Australian Prison for Tax Evasion

The U.S. could take some advice from the Australian legal system as it applies to white collar crime. This occurs in the U.S.? She's sitting on a beach somewhere.

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