A man has been fined after becoming the first Australian convicted for rorting the federal government’s JobKeeper scheme.
Raed Saleh fraudulently reaped $3000 from the wage subsidy program last May by claiming he was a sole trader whose business was hurting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In reality, Mr Saleh wasn’t operating a genuine business and his actual employer had already nominated him for the allowance.
Mr Saleh was convicted and fined $3000 in Melbourne’s Heidelberg Magistrates Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to three counts of making a false and misleading statement to the tax office.
He was also ordered to pay $3000 in reparations and $282 in legal costs.
The Australian Taxation Office said it represented the first criminal conviction for JobKeeper fraud.
Mr Saleh applied for two months’ worth of JobKeeper payments, falsely declaring he met the eligibility requirements and hadn’t already been nominated for the scheme by anyone else.
The first payment went through but the second $3000 chunk was blocked pending an investigation.
JobKeeper payments worth $84 billion had been made to more than one million businesses by mid-February, the ATO said.
“We know most people are honest, and we work with employers to overcome genuine mistakes,” Deputy Commissioner Will Day said.
“However, as this case demonstrates, where people deliberately seek to exploit the stimulus measures, we will put a stop to it and apply the full force of the law.”