Rosa Riak, Kuol Deng and Achai Deng were today sentenced in the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne for conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth by submitting false claims for family day care. Rosa Riak and Kuol Deng were each sentenced to four years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of two years. Achai Deng was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment released forthwith to be of good behaviour for 18 months. The trio were arrested in December 2015. The total proven amount defrauded was $955,438.32.
The offending concerned false claims that were submitted to the Department of Education (DET) for child care services between 1 May 2015 and 16 December 2015, through various family day care businesses controlled by them.
The offenders were among 13 individuals charged with various offences by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in 2015 and 2016 as part of Operation Caulis. Carried out by the AFP, with the assistance of DET and other Commonwealth and state regulatory authorities, the investigation into alleged frauds perpetrated against the Commonwealth by self-employed educators and family day care providers, started in 2015.
The AFP’s investigation established that Riak and her two children (Kuol Deng and Achai Deng) knew that claims for child care, submitted by educators through their businesses Hello Children FDC, Manhal FDC and Dorsy’s FDC, were false, because child care had not been provided as claimed.
Of the 10 educators charged in Operation Caulis, nine pleaded guilty to the charge brought against them and eight have been sentenced in the County Court. Most recently, on 10 August 2018, Clement Iheng was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, to be released after serving six months.
AFP Commander Peter Crozier said the success of this investigation is a testament to the tenacity, dedication and collaboration of the AFP, Department of Education and CDPP members involved.
“The close working relationships and combined specialist skills of these Commonwealth agencies were vital to the success of the investigation,” Commander Crozier said.
“Commonwealth fraud offences have a significant impact on the Australian public. Every dollar defrauded represents funds which could have been used for the benefit of the whole community. Operation Caulis should serve as a warning to Family Day Care providers and educators that systemic and sustained fraud from Australian social policies designed to benefit the community will be detected, investigated and prosecuted.”
In the sentencing hearing today, Judge McInerney said “I congratulate the Commonwealth DPP and the AFP for the degree of professionalism involved in protecting the revenue of the community”.
Although the total amount defrauded was unable to be precisely calculated, in sentencing the accused, Judge McInerney found beyond reasonable doubt that the loss to the Commonwealth was “much greater” than $955,000.