Jail sentence for solar heat pump installation fraud

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The Brisbane District Court has sentenced a plumber to four and a half years of jail time for fraud and production of false and misleading documents that falsely claimed he had installed more than 400 solar heat pumps.

The sentence, handed down on 5 August 2019, is the result of an investigation by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) relating to the Small-scale Renewable Energy under the Renewable Energy Target.

Brett Stephen Muldoon, who will serve a minimum term of 15 months before being eligible for parole, obtained just under $400,000 by producing false and misleading documentation claiming that non-existent solar air-source heat pumps had been installed at more than 400 properties throughout Queensland.

This enabled him to improperly create 11,180 small-scale technology certificates between 2013 and 2014.

In sentencing, Judge William Everson stated this was a sophisticated fraud noting the length of time of the conduct and the amount of money taken. 

Judge Everson said, “a deterrent sentence is called for fraud of this magnitude” and that Mr Muldoon’s conduct was “extremely selfish and reprehensible”.

Mr Muldoon’s conviction was under s408C of the Queensland Criminal Code. The one charge accounted for 415 acts of fraudulent behaviour committed by Mr Muldoon.

The CER requires a high level of compliance with scheme obligations, and has a range of monitoring and enforcement powers under legislation.

Fraudulent activity, such as providing false information to create small-scale technology certificates, is a threat to the integrity of the schemes administered by the CER.

The CER warms that individuals and companies who participate in the schemes and wilfully commit an act of fraud or non-compliance, such as falsely creating certificates, will be subject to enforcement action which may lead to criminal conviction and jail, as in this case.

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