Boss pleads guilty to defrauding Indigenous employment scheme

Timothy Schwab falsified documents to collect over $200,000 from the government

Boss pleads guilty to defrauding Indigenous employment scheme

A contractor in Darwin has been convicted of defrauding a government program designed to incentivise the employment of Indigenous workers.

Timothy Schwab, owner of Timber and Steel Constructions, pleaded guilty before the Northern Territory Supreme Court to one count of obtaining a benefit by deception.

Schwab falsified documents to collect more than $200,000 in rewards from the NT government through the Indigenous Employment Provisional Sum (IEPS). During its time, the scheme provided incentives to local construction companies that employed Indigenous workers.

Schwab, who was the first to be convicted of defrauding the program, submitted inflated invoices and fake timesheets to the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics.

He also listed subcontractors as his employees to benefit from the scheme. All in all, the deception occurred on 56 different occasions from November 2015 to June 2017, the court heard.

The IEPS scheme was terminated in August 2017 after claims of fraud began to hound the program. Despite the allegations, only two small construction groups have been charged, ABC News reported.

An investigation by the Auditor General showed the IEPS was “being taken advantage of,” and that the lack of a proper claims verification system may have caused the program to lose more than $100m of taxpayers’ money to fraudulent claims.

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