Businessman is first to be arrested over alleged furlough scheme fraud

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Businessman is first to be arrested over alleged furlough scheme fraud

A 57-year-old businessman has become the first person to be arrested in connection with an alleged fraud of the Government furlough scheme.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the man, from Solihull, West Midlands, was held in connection with allegations of a £495,000 fraud of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

Officers seized computers and other digital devices, while funds held in a bank account linked to the arrested man’s business have been frozen.

Richard Las, acting director, Fraud Investigation Service, 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.

“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 in 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.”

More than £27.4billion has been claimed through the furlough scheme, supporting 1.1 million employers and 9.4 million workers.

HMRC added that the man was also arrested in relation to a suspected multi-million-pound tax fraud and alleged money laundering offences.

A further eight men have also been detained as part of this linked investigation, which involved the deployment of more than 100 HMRC officers to 11 locations.

Computers, digital devices, and various business and personal records were also seized during the raids.

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