A former Australian Taxation Office deputy commissioner accused of misusing his position to help his son has told a Sydney jury he was "very comfortable and confident" he did the right thing.
Michael Bede Cranston testified he'd "grappled" with whether there was a conflict of interest or a perceived conflict after his son Adam asked for information for a business associate, Simon Anquetil.
But as he himself would not be involved in any decision making, Cranston asked a subordinate to find out what area of the ATO was dealing with the case, so Mr Anquetil could be connected with the relevant person.
The 59-year-old has pleaded not guilty to using information he obtained as a deputy commissioner, and exercising influence in the capacity of his role, with the intention of dishonestly obtaining a benefit for his son.
As well as the request relating to Mr Anquetil, Cranston is accused of contacting another assistant commissioner after his son wanted help in relation to a company named Plutus Payroll.
In opening the defence case in the NSW District Court on Monday, his barrister, David Staehli SC, said his client had no dishonest intention but his 40-year illustrious ATO career had "ended with these bloody events".
Cranston said his son came to him in January 2017 showing him a strongly-worded tax office letter sent to Mr Anquetil which Cranston believed indicated "an incorrect application of the law".
He said he told his son: "I will try and get somebody to try and deal with it but I can't get involved in any decision-making or any of the detail."
Cranston said he asked assistant commissioner Scott Burrows to find out what area in the ATO the letter came from.
Cranston said he was concerned about "the culture side of it" and wanted to know what area was treating taxpayers "like this".
"All I wanted to find out was what area is it being done in.
"I would never have got involved. I would have asked Scott to make inquiries with the taxpayer's representative."
He told Mr Staehli he would never have asked to see the file and when Mr Burrows told him the case was "blocked" he told his subordinate he did not want to know anything more.
"I was very comfortable and confident that I had done the right thing there," he said.
He will continue his evidence on Tuesday.
Australian Associated Press