The Beehive building

Home detention for $112k wage subsidy fraud

08 November 2023.

A man has been given home detention for fraudulently claiming more than $112,000 in COVID-19 wage subsidies.

Mohammed Omar Nassery, 43, was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on 8 November 2023 having admitted seven charges of dishonest use of a document, in connection with the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

Between 17 April 2020 and 20 September 2021, Nassery made eight wage subsidy applications in the name of his company Accurate Painters 2000 Limited, seeking a total of $148,387.20. Six of these were approved and $112,325.60 was paid into his bank account.

In these applications, Nassery said Accurate Painters had, at various times, up to 13 employees. In truth, the company did not employ any staff and occasionally engaged contractors to carry out projects.

While Nassery did pay small amounts of the wage subsidy funds to some of the contractors named in his applications, he retained a significant portion for himself.

During the period he received the funds, Nassery made cash withdrawals totalling $27,270, spent $19,910.40 on online gambling, and another $8210.19 on personal expenses, such as food and petrol.

He made one more wage subsidy application as a sole trader, using the name Omar Nassery, on 20 September 2021. The application was declined.

At sentencing, Nassery’s lawyer submitted that his family had sourced funds to pay reparation, with a $30,000 payment up front and another $10,000 to be paid in instalments. Judge Lisa Tremewan gave Nassery credit for this, as well as his early guilty plea and rehabilitative efforts.

She sentenced him to 12 months’ home detention, 12 months’ post-detention conditions, and judicial monitoring.