Business owner jailed for workers compensation fraud


A business owner who put in years worth of fraudulent workers compensation claims while running a successful childcare operation will have to pay back a large sum when he's out of prison.

Samer Ahmed suffered a workplace injury that left him with a major depressive disorder and anxiety while working as principal of a Melbourne Islamic college in 2005.

In March 2006 he made a workers compensation claim which was approved within a month and regular compensation payments were made.

Ahmed, now 54, was required to provide regular certificates of capacity with declarations as to his medical condition, signed by health practitioners.

He claimed he had not worked since March 2006, spent most time at home and saw himself as totally disabled and unable to work, according to WorkSafe.

A month after payments began, Ahmed and his family purchased a property in Glenroy and spent the next two years developing it to operate as a childcare centre.

Ahmed engaged contractors for work, applied for planning permits and was even director of the childcare business during that time.

Between June 2009 and October 2014, when the business was sold at a considerable profit, Ahmed was involved in running the operations and in one year was registered as its payroll officer.

He was involved in managing staff, making superannuation payments, purchasing supplies and equipments and even made a finance application to a major bank on behalf of the business.

But over that time he received more than $430,000 in workers compensation for his apparent inability to work.

He also completed voluntary work in 2015, including conducting a halal audit at Rio Tinto.

Ahmed's fraud came undone when he accidentally sent the wrong documents to his insurance company, prompting an investigation into his WorkCover eligibility.

He was convicted by a jury of seven charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception.

County Court Judge Scott Johns, sentencing Ahmed to 22 months in prison on Wednesday, said his financial circumstances were far from desperate during his offending period.

He ordered Ahmed to pay back $350,000 noting that while he currently receives $1000 a fortnight in a disability pension, he has considerable earning potential.

The father-of-four must serve at least eight months of his prison sentence before he's eligible for parole.

WorkSafe's insurance director Roger Arnold described Ahmed's fraud as the most egregious he had seen, pointing out the blatant lies to multiple medical experts and the length of time he kept up his deception.

"Our scheme exists to give workers who have suffered a mental or physical injury the support and treatment they need and those who seek to defraud it will be held to account," he said.