A Victorian judge said it was “disappointing” to see so many refugees before the court over a childcare subsidy scam as he sentenced the two ringleaders to four years in jail.
Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has long been a critic of childcare subsidy scams and called them out in the Senate in March last year.
The Australian reports, a mother and her son, both refugees, were sentenced in the Victorian County Court in Melbourne over a conspiracy to defraud the federal Education Department over false childcare subsidy claims made through various childcare businesses.
Seven other educators connected to their companies had been sentenced and fined over the scheme, and all were refugees.
“To have so many people ... engaged in an attack of the revenue of this country is most disappointing,” he said, “given the thousands, if not millions, of dollars spent to help their plight.”
They pleaded guilty last month to using their business, and other childcare businesses to make false claims to the commonwealth, particularly through claims of a grandparent childcare benefit.
One business bought by the group in 2015 claimed $6.2 million in just one year.
Justice McInerney said receipts showed more than $950,000 had definitely been falsely claimed “but it seems likely the actual figure is much higher”.
The court heard that claims were made for children who were never cared for, and by educators who were actually interstate or overseas at the time.
Australian Federal Police caught them through doing audits of their businesses and via intercepted phone calls.
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