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Gopalakrishnan Vilayur avoids jail time in fraud case

Former public servant Gopalakrishnan Vilayur has escaped a custodial sentence despite being involved in a conspiracy to defraud the Department of Finance.

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Former public servant Gopalakrishnan Vilayur has escaped a custodial sentence despite being involved in a conspiracy to defraud the Department of Finance. In a ruling described by the judge as addressing a “thoroughly dishonest” act, Vilayur was handed an intensive corrections order for three years and four months, coupled with 300 hours of community service.

The case, which unfolded in the ACT Supreme Court, detailed Vilayur’s collaboration with two other men, former public servant Raminder Singh Kahlon and businessman Abdul ‘Alex’ El-Debel. Together, they orchestrated a scheme between March 2019 and June 2020, aimed at unlawfully obtaining funds from the federal government.

Their modus operandi involved preparing candidates from their own or associated companies for contract roles within the Department of Finance, with the intention of profiting from the placements. Justice David Mossop, presiding over the case, outlined the trio’s endeavor as a deliberate attempt to manipulate government procurement processes for personal gain.

Vilayur, holding an executive level two (EL2) position within the Department of Finance, was found to have abused his authority by providing favoured contractors with advanced insights into the recruitment process. Intercepted communications revealed a pattern of manipulation, including candidates being coached with specific interview questions.

The potential financial gains from the scheme were substantial, with Vilayur documenting a projected profit of $1.6 million by the end of 2020. However, Justice Mossop noted that the actual profits were not realized due to the intervention of law enforcement.

Despite Gopalakrishnan Vilayur’s admission of guilt in March, the case remained under a suppression order until recently. During sentencing, Justice Mossop emphasized the gravity of the breach of trust involved, echoing sentiments from a prior judgment that characterized the conspiracy as driven by “greed, rather than need.”

During the sentencing proceedings, Justice Mossop echoed sentiments expressed by his retired counterpart, Justice Michael Elkaim, during the co-conspirators’ trial. Justice Elkaim had emphasized that the actions were primarily driven by greed, rather than genuine necessity.

“It involved a significant breach of trust as both contractors through their own companies and as employees,” he said.

Furthermore, a psychologist’s report cited by the judge highlighted Vilayur’s apparent lack of remorse or recognition of the wrongfulness of his actions. While the exact financial impact on the Commonwealth remains uncertain, significant government resources were expended in investigating the scheme.

“The offender has not demonstrated any real remorse,” Justice Mossop agreed.

Gopalakrishnan Vilayur’s co-conspirators, Kahlon and El-Debel, have already been convicted and are currently serving three-and-a-half-year intensive corrections orders. The Department of Finance terminated all contracts arranged by the trio, although subcontractors involved were subsequently rehired by other entities.

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