Café owner fined over $93,000 fraud

A former cook at a Wheelers Hill aged care centre has been convicted and fined $10,000 after buying and running his own café while receiving workers compensation payments.

Thirimamuni Mendis, 39, was sentenced in the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to a single charge of fraudulently obtaining payments.

The court heard Mendis began receiving support payments in June 2019 after suffering an arm and chest injury while moving a dishwasher at the aged care centre.

He returned to work on light duties in October 2019, but ceased work a month later and continued to receive weekly payments for almost two years until the fraud was uncovered.

A WorkSafe investigation revealed Mendis had bought a Hawthorn café in August 2019 and began working there following the resignation of its manager in January 2020.

Mendis continued to sign certificates of capacity declaring he was not working and did not disclose during a number of medical consultations that he had returned to work.

He received a total of $93,767 in compensation payments, which has since been repaid.

WorkSafe Executive Director Insurance Roger Arnold said fraudulent activity diverted resources from workers genuinely in need.

“Any individual who sees fit to defraud our workers compensation scheme is effectively undermining its ability to help those who truly need it,” Mr Arnold said.

“Our message to those trying to game the system is simple – we will find you and hold you to account.”

Source: WorkSafe Vic

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