Two arrested over furlough fraud worth alleged £70,000

Two people have been arrested over a suspected £70,000 Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) fraud, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has said.

HMRC officers arrested a 43-year-old accountant and a 51-year-old company director after attending two homes in Romford and Walthamstow on Thursday, the agency added.

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

Leading tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg’s Fiona Fernie previously told BirminghamLive: “HMRC has started investigations into companies and individuals that it believes have fraudulently made claims under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which has paid out more than 27bn.”

She added: “The Government now intends to clawback as much money as possible from those whose claims were wrong.

“Nobody who has received these grants should be complacent, the proposals for clawback are not confined to instances where the claim was fraudulent – it applies to cases where there has been a lack of proper care as well.”

Fiona added: “HMRC have received over 3,800 reports of fraudulent claims under CJRS and this case shows they are already taking action in the most obvious cases of misuse.

“HMRC will always investigate complaints and tip-offs which suggest that the system has been abused.

“It is only right and proper that those who have made false claims should be caught and penalised.

“However, not all such complaints have substance and HMRC will be wary of the possibility that the complaints are themselves untrue and represent a backlash from employees who have lost their jobs.

“HMRC will also be sensitive to the possibility that some of the incorrect claims are merely mistakes rather than carelessness or deliberate abuse.”