Syndicate dismantled and four charged following investigation into NSW Government grant frauds

Thursday, 18 August 2022 07:20:51 AM

Financial Crime Squad detectives have dismantled a criminal syndicate and charged four men who allegedly obtained more than $1.3 million through fraudulent NSW Government grant applications.

In November 2021, detectives attached to the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad and all Sydney Metropolitan Regions, established Strike Force Sainsbery to investigate fraudulent applications made against NSW Government financial relief schemes related to the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.

Since that time, investigators have laid 396 charges against 48 people for allegedly defrauding these schemes. All remain before the courts.

Service NSW Fraud Response Unit is also assisting Strike Force Sainsbery.

As part of ongoing inquiries, strike force investigators uncovered an alleged criminal syndicate involved in numerous fraudulent claims of NSW Government support payments.

Following extensive investigations, strike force detectives – assisted by South West Metropolitan Operations Support Group (OSG) – executed search warrants at homes in Brighton Le Sands, Mascot, Lakemba and Roselands – from 6am yesterday (Wednesday 17 August 2022).

Additionally, police executed further search warrants at businesses in Lakemba.

During the searches, police seized cash, electronic devices, and documentation, which will undergo further forensic examination.

A 39-year-old man was arrested at a home in Mascot. The Roselands man was taken to Campsie Police Station where he was charged with 30 counts of dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception, and 24 counts of attempt dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception.

He was bail refused to appear at Bankstown Local Court today (Thursday 18 August 2022).

A 51-year-old man arrested at Mascot and a 34-year-old man arrested at Brighton-Le-Sands were both taken to Mascot Police Station.

The older man was charged with 27 counts of dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception, while the younger man was charged with 20 counts of dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception and eight counts of attempt dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception.

Both men were given strict conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on 29 August 2022.

Additionally, a 44-year-old man was arrested at a worksite at Badgerys Creek about 11am and taken to Liverpool Police Station, where he was charged with seven counts of dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception, and one count of knowingly deal with proceeds of crime.

He was refused bail to appear at Liverpool Local Court today.

It will be alleged in court that the men obtained a total of $1.3 million by submitting fraudulent applications against numerous NSW Government COVID-19 support schemes.

A further $459,000 in fraudulent grant applications were allegedly submitted by the syndicate but were prevented from being paid.

Financial Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Con Galea, said organised crime networks are shamelessly exploiting government schemes designed to help those in critical need of financial support.

“It’s abundantly clear to us that this was a well-equipped and organised syndicate, and we will allege they were enabled by professional facilitators including tax agents and accountants,” Det A/Supt Galea said.

“We are working closely with our state and federal counterparts to identify criminal networks that are exploiting government revenue streams and will hold those responsible to account.

“Those who continue to partake in this grubby behaviour should know that they’ve already been identified, and police will be paying them a visit shortly,” Det A/Supt Galea said.

Anyone with information that may assist investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.