Contractor sentenced for waste disposal fraud
A contractor who was paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars to take asbestos-contaminated soil to a lawful landfill has received a 12-month term of imprisonment, to be served in the community, for faking waste disposal dockets. Paul Mouawad was prosecuted by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) over the disposal of 1400 tonnes of waste containing asbestos.
An EPA investigation found 134 truckloads of asbestos-contaminated soil were collected from a building site in Darlington, in central Sydney, in June and July 2016, but only one truckload was lawfully disposed of at the Elizabeth Drive Landfill at Kemps Creek. Mouawad supplied 29 fraudulent waste disposal dockets and a fake Ticket List Report to the construction company on the building site, in an attempt to show the asbestos waste was disposed of lawfully, at a licensed landfill.
The EPA said Mouawad’s actions concealed the true location of the asbestos waste, posing “indeterminable” risks to the environment and human health, now and into the future. The EPA said the offences were aggravated by Mouawad’s disregard for public safety and the planned and organised nature of the crime.
The investigation revealed that in the lead-up to the offences, Mouawad had purchased a thermal printer, which he used to create falsified waste disposal dockets. Mouawad pleaded guilty to two charges of knowingly supplying false and misleading information about waste, and was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment via an intensive correction order in the community.
Justice Nicola Pain also ordered Mouawad to perform 250 hours of community service work, not commit any offences and pay the EPA’s legal costs of $60,000. Each offence carried a maximum penalty of $240,000 or imprisonment for 18 months or both for an individual.
The company that employed Mouawad, Aussie Earthmovers Pty Ltd, was convicted and fined $450,000 on two charges of knowingly supplying false and misleading information about the disposal of the waste in November 2020, following a separate EPA prosecution.
NSW Police separately charged Mouawad with defrauding the construction company by providing the false invoices. Mouawad pleaded guilty to a fraud charge in September 2018 and was sentenced to a 15-month intensive correction order following an appeal to the NSW District Court. Mouawad was also ordered to repay the construction company $225,056. The compensation has not yet been paid.
Mouawad is also being prosecuted by the EPA for three additional offences, which allege waste, including waste containing asbestos, was illegally disposed of at Arcadia in Sydney’s north-west. He has pleaded not guilty to those matters, which are still before the Court.
EPA Director Major Compliance and Investigations Greg Sheehy warned that the EPA will pursue and prosecute offenders who try to make a quick buck by damaging the environment, adding that rogue operators caused harm to honest companies and the environment.
“The sentence shows that criminal behaviour does not pay,” Sheehy said.
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