Day care centre ‘swindled’ millions for phantom kids
EXCLUSIVE: Red Roses Family Day Care promised parents it was a "safe, nurturing and loving" environment for your child.
But police allege the childcare company made fraudulent claims worth millions of dollars from the federal government's Child Care Subsidy scheme.
Officers arrested 15 women and three men yesterday following a year-long investigation by a specialist strike force made up of NSW Police's Financial Crimes and Organised Crime Squads and the Federal Department of Education and Training.
They raided 22 homes and businesses at Chester Hill, Greenacre, Bass Hill and across the Illawarra.
The alleged kingpin of the scam, Red Roses director Alee Farmann, was arrested at his Georges Hall home and charged with directing a criminal group.
At Sadlier, Zina Salman Mohammad, 44, was arrested and charged with knowingly directing the activities of a criminal group.
It is understood police will allege the $5 million scheme worked by the centres claiming federal subsidies for phantom children who did not exist or by registering children who never attended day care.
The investigation into the alleged scam started in July last year.
Police confirmed in a statement officers "will allege in court that the syndicate fraudulently claimed for Commonwealth benefits under the Child Care Subsidy schemes".
The Federal Department of Education and Training provides the subsidies directly to child care providers that should be passed on to families as a fee reduction.
Farmann's neighbours said they were woken by police storming the luxury home.
"He seemed like a nice bloke … he had some really nice cars," one neighbour said.
At Arcadia St, Chester Hill, detectives spent hours combing a tiny fibro cottage, where a sign at the door said "Welcome to Red Roses Family Day Care".
In Liverpool Local Court yesterday, Mohammad wiped away tears as she was granted bail.
She was earlier denied bail by police at Liverpool Police Station, with documents stating "the accused is not employed, however maintains she is involved in child care business of Red Roses".
Police said the offences Mohammad allegedly committed were of a "very serious nature to the Commonwealth, disrupting the community by illegally using public moneys".
"The prosecution has a strong case involving telephone interception devices supporting the offence. The accused has shown no remorse towards the community as a victim," police bail documents stated.
Court documents allege Mohammad "did knowingly participate in a criminal group, Red Roses Family Day Care Pty Ltd by directing activities of the organised and ongoing criminal group".
Mohammad's case was adjourned to July 8, while Farmann, who was granted bail by police, will face court later this month.
Red Rose Family Day Care states it provides "high quality, flexible home care options".