West Yorkshire pair arrested on suspicion of £3.4 million furlough fraud

A man and a woman from West Yorkshire have been arrested as part of an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation into a suspected £3.4 million Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) fraud.

HMRC’s Taxpayer Protection Taskforce officers executed a search warrant on 28th April 2021 in the Bradford area and arrested a 35-year-old man and 36-year-old woman.

Both individuals were also arrested in relation to a suspected multi-million-pound tax fraud and have been released under investigation.

More than £6 million held in bank accounts controlled by the pair have been frozen by HMRC.

Janet Alexander, Taxpayer Protection Taskforce Director, HMRC, said:

“The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is part of the collective national effort to protect jobs. The vast majority of employers will have used the CJRS responsibly, but we will not hesitate to act on reports of abuse of the scheme or any HMRC administered Covid-19 support packages.

“This is taxpayers’ money and any claim that proves to be fraudulent limits our ability to support people and deprives public services of essential funding.

“As usual, we have built steps into CJRS to prevent mistakes and fraud happening in the first place, but anyone who is concerned that their employer might be abusing the scheme should report it to HMRC online or call 0800 788 887.”

In March the government announced it will invest over £100 million in a Taxpayer Protection Taskforce to combat fraud within the HMRC administered COVID-19 support packages, including the CJRS and SEISS, representing one of the largest responses to a fraud risk by HMRC.

More than £61 billion has been claimed through the Job Retention Scheme, supporting 1.3m employers and 11.5m furloughed jobs. 

The CJRS scheme has four lines of defence:

  • Employees continue to have to be on a payroll by a particular date, to prevent the use of fake employees
  • Claims are only accepted from employers known – and authenticated – by HMRC
  • All claims are assessed by a specialist team within a 72-hour window
  • Proportionate and reasonable interventions after money has been paid.

Background

  1. A 35-year-old man from the Bradford area was arrested on suspicion of cheating the public revenue, VAT evasion and money laundering on 28th April 2021.
  2. A 36-year-old woman from the Bradford area was arrested on suspicion of cheating the public revenue, VAT evasion and money laundering on 28th April 2021.
  3. Anyone who is concerned about abuse of HMRC administered coronavirus support schemes can report it to HMRC online or call 0800 788 887.
  4. Guidance on how to pay all or some of your Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant back if overclaimed, or if the grant is no longer needed and want to make a voluntary repayment, is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pay-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-grants-back

PAYadvice.UK 8/5/2021

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