As a business owner you will be aware of the Government’s financial assistance schemes offered to businesses during the Covid19 pandemic. They include:
- The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
- The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)
- The Future Fund
We expect that the most common type of fraud will be where a ‘shell’ company is used to otbain a BBLS or CBILS payment, possibly on the back of a fictitous paper trail. We would anticipate that any payments received in that manner would be laundered in order to attempt to hide the source of the payment.
We fully expect the governement via the National Crime Agency or HMRC to investigate payments to businesses from the British Business Bank for signs of fraud and money laundering.
Our commerical team have received enquiries from business owners who believe that their business partners have committed fraud offences by obtaining BBLS or CBILS loans / grants and diverting the funds to their personal accounts. There is also the potential for sham investment into businesses in order to obtain future fund payments. It is likely that in those cases the Police and HMRC will investigate and prosecute where appropriate.
Applications for funding will be checked and validated internally by HMRC. For many organisations this will be a process which happens without any interference. However, others will be investigated and prosecuted for fraud and money laundering offences.
If you have concerns that you or your business may be investigated further due to a deliberately dishonest application or an honest mistake then it is important to obtain legal advice immediately. Do not wait to see what happens. We suggest that if you have concerns about your business you contact the team at Ison Harrison for a confidential discussion. It is important to be properly prepared for the possibility of arrest or for your premises being searched and records seized – see our blog: https://www.isonharrison.co.uk/blog/what-are-corporate-investigations/
Penalties for money laundering or fraud include, imprisonment for directors, unlimited fines, directors disqualification and proceds of crime proceedings. This is no different to committing any other type of fraud or money laundering offence, and the penalites will be similarly severe.
GET IN TOUCH
Ison Harrrison have advised businesses ranging from sole traders to multi-national on compliance and regulatory matters. We have a full service corporate and commercial team which sits alongside our criminal and regulatory law offering. As such, we understand your business just as well as we understand fraud and money laundering.
We are able to represent clients all over England and Wales. We will attend your business if necessary or arrange video conferencing to discuss your case and your business. We are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for advice.
For more information, please give us a call on 0113 284 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org