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Australia AFP freeze millions in assets of public servants accused of conspiring to defraud the Government

00:41  01 july  2020
00:41  01 july  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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Three public servants who allegedly used their inside knowledge to influence IT contracts at the Department of Finance have been charged with conspiring to defraud the Federal Government . During a brief appearance in ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday morning, Abdul El-Debel, 47

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Australian Federal Police have frozen $7.8 million in assets linked to three Canberra federal public servants accused of taking kickbacks to award government contracts.

Seven homes were frozen by police, who alleged the trio were using their gains to buy and renovate homes in Canberra.

Police arrested Abdul El-Debel, 47, Gopalakrishnan Vilayur, 50, and Raminder Kahlon, 36, last month after a sparked by a Finance Department report to police.

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It is alleged over a two-year period that the men used their inside knowledge to influence IT contracts at the department, receiving financial rewards for their efforts.

Mr El-Debel and Mr Vilayur were both charged in the ACT Magistrates Court with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth and abuse of public office.

Mr Kahlon was charged with conspiracy.

Today, the AFP revealed officers from their Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) had frozen assets, including bank accounts, seven homes and several vehicles, worth an estimated $7.8 million.

In a statement, the AFP said they had frozen properties in the Canberra suburbs of Griffith, Barton, Palmerston and Narrabundah that were linked to the men.

"The CACT will allege the men conspired to direct information technology contracts through preferred suppliers, and then received financial benefits as a result of this activity, some of which was then used to purchase and renovate residential properties in Canberra," the police statement said.

"This action follows the 10 June 2020 arrest of three men charged with conspiracy to defraud the Australian Government while working for an Australian public service agency in Canberra."

The trio are currently released on bail under strict conditions, including an agreement to pay $25,000 if they fail to appear in court, to not contact each other, and a ban on remotely connecting to the Department of Finance IT system.

Police said the arrests came after a complex investigation, which began after officers were alerted by the Department of Finance in July last year.

The men are expected to re-appear in court this month.

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