Home Insulation Fraud Targeted by Joint Agency Taskforce with AFP Issuing 35 Warrants in 3 States
Canberra, Australia (News4us.com) March 04, 2011
During a recent press conference, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet MP Joined the Parliament Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Mark Dreyfus MP
Mr Combet opened discussions with: “I’m joined by Parliamentary Secretary and Cabinet Secretary Mark Dreyfus who has responsibility with me for the wind up of the home insulation program”.
“We put a release out earlier today in relation to some operations that have been taking place in relation to the home insulation program. But firstly I just want to refer back to the statement that I made to Parliament on 10 March last year when I indicated that one of the key objectives that I had as the minister responsible for winding down the home insulation program was to identify and put in place processes that dealt with issues of non-compliance under the program and of alleged fraud”.
“I also said at that time that the Government would put in place measures to rigorously pursue those individuals and companies that had engaged in potentially fraudulent behaviour. That is why the Government then went on to request the Auditor-General to conduct an investigation into the home insulation program and that is why I, as minister, also spoke to my department about the engagement of a forensic auditor to investigate how fraud may have been perpetrated under the home insulation program”.
Mr Combet, went on to say that he was able to confirm that yesterday a number of activities were undertaken aimed at targeting those who are alleged to have committed serious fraud under the Government’s home insulation program.
This activity involved a joint operation between the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency in which 35 search warrants were executed across three states. And as the Federal Police have confirmed, 22 of those search warrants were executed in New South Wales, three in Queensland and 10 in Victoria.
The activities were focused on Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in those States. There was a large contingent of AFP and Department of Climate officers involved as well as some state police. During the execution of the search warrants a large amount of data was seized in the form of documents and computers.
Extensive forensic analysis will take place in relation to all of the data that had been seized and officials expected that it could take some months to work through all material collected.
Over the last twenty-four hours interviews had been carried out with those associated with the properties where the search warrants were executed.
To date, at this time, no persons have been charged with any offences relating to the investigations.
Mr Combet continued. “Now, concurrently, the Department of Climate Change has launched a comprehensive debt recovery program aimed at recovering all debt owed from fraudulent and non-compliant activities. Around two-thousand letters have now been sent to affected insulation installers putting them on notice that they have thirty days to repay their debts”.
The Minister explained that yesterday’s activities were the direct result of a lot of painstaking and difficult work undertaken by the Department of Climate Change and the forensic auditors who were engaged and provided by KPMG.
“All of that work over the last twelve months has enabled the AFP and the Department to conduct the operations that are now well and truly under way and I’m advised, of course, that as all of those investigations are continuing it’s not appropriate to be making further comment on specific details at this stage” he said.
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