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Sydney couple plead guilty to $1.5m NDIS fraud that funded ‘lavish lifestyle’

They will next appear before the NSW District Court on March 27, when a date for sentence will be set. Both remain in custody until their next appearance.

Australian Federal Police arrested the pair in a series of raids across Sydney last year, following a six-month investigation by the NDIS fraud taskforce.

A Mercedes E63 registered in the name of Alaedine Rifai.

A Mercedes E63 registered in the name of Alaedine Rifai.Credit:Australian Federal Police

Investigators at the time said more than 70 people disability plans were defrauded by the syndicate, which sat behind three registered NDIS providers: Universal Group Australia, Reliance Disability Services and United Mission.

Mr Rifai was the sole director and secretary of Universal Group Australia, a kitchen joinery business.

An advertised kitchen fit-out by Universal Group Australia.

An advertised kitchen fit-out by Universal Group Australia.Credit:Facebook

The three organisations individually offered nursing, cleaning, transport and home fit-out services to people supported by government-subsidised disability plans.

Investigators found Mr Rifai and Ms Hilmi played a key role in the syndicate, which lodged over-inflated invoices for services and falsely drew from the victims’ disability plans so that the victims were unable to make further claims.

In other examples, they found services were either delivered in part only, or not at all.

At the time federal police acting Commander Mark McIntyre said the abuse of the scheme “actively and brazenly” targeted society’s most vulnerable.

“And the sole aim was to steal funds designed to support the participants of the NDIS just to service their own lavish lifestyle,” he said.

Luxury cars, watches, jewellery, property and land were among assets bought with the spoils of the fraud, many of which have since been targeted by authorities as proceeds of crime.

In July last year, the NSW Supreme Court issued a type of freezing order, known as a restraining order, over a Porsche Cayenne, an Audi A3 and a Mercedes E63, as well as properties owned by Mr Rifai and Ms Hilmi.

The Porsche Cayenne is registered in Ms Hilmi’s name, while the other two vehicles are registered in Mr Rifai’s name.

The restraining order remains in place in relation to one property in Goulburn and the three luxury vehicles, worth an estimated $340,000. It will next be heard in the Supreme Court on April 3.

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