Two men who conspired to manipulate finance ministry recruitment processes avoid jail time

A civil servant and businessman convicted of conspiring to manipulate IT recruitment at the federal finance ministry, avoided jail, after ruining their reputations, “probably out of greed”.

Abdul ‘Alex’ El-Debel, 49, and Raminder Kahlon, 38, have been charged with conspiring with a third man to dishonestly obtain a benefit from the Commonwealth, by presenting candidates from companies with which they were associated.

Sentencing the men today, Judge Michael Elkaim noted that the crime was something of a “part-time conspiracy”, which lasted from March 2019 to June 2020.

He described how the plot worked, saying the three men were going to facilitate the procurement process for the benefit of candidates presented by certain companies, to earn the margins to be paid, which were then distributed to the men.

“I am … satisfied that the jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that the agreement involved an intent to dishonestly obtain the margin,” Judge Elkaim said.

Two companies were involved in the case; New Horizons and ALGORAM.

According to the prosecution, ALGORAM was a combination of the men’s names.

Judge Elkaim said today he rejects Kahlon’s claims that ALGORAM was not made up of the names of the men.

“He may be right, but he did it the wrong way”

Abdul El-Debel (pictured) and Raminder Kahlon were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth.(ABC News: Antoinette Radford)

It was a strange and difficult business from the start.

The jury witnessed an entire week of telephone interceptions conducted largely in Hindi and Punjabi, followed by translation.

But the main difficulty for the prosecution was that no monetary value was ever assigned to the loss.

Prosecutors told the jury that all that needed to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt was that the men intended to commit the crime, not that they actually did.

Defense attorneys pointed to the highly politicized environment, suggesting the charges may have been office politics.

El-Debel’s lawyer also pointed out that he declared a conflict of interest when recruiting for two key projects.

El-Debel also maintained that he only tried to get the best staff for the department and actually saved the government money.

“He may be right, but he did it the wrong way,” Judge Elkaim said.

The jury found both guilty on the conspiracy charge.

Jail ‘inevitable’ if fraud reveals significant loss to Commonwealth: judge

A man in a suit walks between two lawyers.
Judge Michael Elkaim said Kahlon (pictured) and El-Debel were also responsible.(ABC News: Antoinette Radford)

Today Judge Elkaim noted that there was no remorse from the men.

He also said he rejected their lawyers’ arguments that each was guiltier than the other, saying he would treat them equally.

“At the end of the day, I am faced with the condemnation of two intelligent, successful and respected family men who, probably out of greed, ruined their reputations and harmed the lives of their families,” he said.

“Had the fraud revealed a material loss to the Commonwealth or a large quantifiable gain to the offenders, a full-time prison sentence would have been unavoidable.”

Instead, the men will serve intensive correctional orders for three and a half years and will also be required to complete 300 hours of community service.

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