The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Fraud Taskforce was established in July 2018 to tackle fraud committed against the scheme. It is a joint operation involving the National Disability Insurance Agency, Services Australia and the AFP, with the CDPP participating as an advisory member.
The first case the Taskforce referred to the CDPP was that of Mohamed Osman Omar (36). Following a Taskforce investigation, he was prosecuted by the CDPP and sentenced in the Victorian County Court to four years’ imprisonment for defrauding the NDIS of more than $370,000 between June and August 2018, and trying to obtain a further $85,000 from the scheme.
A registered NDIS service provider, Mr Omar accessed 230 NDIS participant accounts and submitted 392 payment requests for services he didn’t provide. Mr Omar used the fraudulently obtained funds to buy luxury items including a BMW, a Toyota Hilux and expensive watches.
The CDPP provides a range of support to the Taskforce, including:
- pre-brief advice in matters that are significant, complex, major or of particular importance to the Taskforce
- general legal advice in relation to the competence and compellability of witnesses, along with other issues such as whether evidence can be compulsorily obtained from state and territory police under the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013
- strategic and legal advice in relation to the evidence required to successfully prosecute NDIS cases, as well as potential opportunities and barriers to prosecuting cases.
The Revenue and Benefits Fraud practice group regularly liaises with partner agencies, and during 2018–19 carried out a number of practical workshops with Taskforce investigators aimed at building their capacity in this new and emerging crime type.
In February 2019, members of the practice group also provided training to National Disability Insurance Agency investigators at a Fraud and Compliance Induction week in Melbourne. This training focused the CDPP’s role, fraud offences generally, briefs of evidence and disclosure.
Capturing lessons learned from the Omar matter, the practice group provided advice to the National Disability Insurance Agency about issues that may arise in future prosecutions and the importance of addressing these in future briefs.
In June 2019, the CDPP received its second referral from the Taskforce in relation to Operation Apus, which saw six defendants arrested for defrauding the NDIS of at least $3 million.