The Treasury is creating a Taxpayer Protection Taskforce to crack down on fraudsters exploiting government support schemes.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak allocated £100m for the taskforce in his Budget on Wednesday, following concerns of fraud in the government-backed loan schemes, particularly the bounce back loan scheme (BBLS).
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“This taskforce is a good thing, it’s likely for BBLS, it’ll be useful and it’s important the government is very generous with the money to try its best to control and recover funds,” said Stuart Law, chief executive of Assetz Capital, which has been delivering funds under the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme.
“It’s a lot of money but it’ll take a lot of people to track things down and is relatively small compared to the benefit it brings, but if it’s criminal activity that obtained the money I’m pretty sure it would be long gone.”
In February, a specialist police unit funded by the banking and finance industry announced it had prevented almost £20m of fraud and arrested over 100 suspected criminals in 2020, including several involved in Covid-19 scams.
In January, banks have started to freeze business accounts suspected of bounce back loan fraud, and the National Crime Agency arrested three men as part of an investigation into fraudulent bounce back loan claims totalling £6m.