Coronavirus  

Pair arrested over suspected £3.4m furlough fraud

Pair arrested over suspected £3.4m furlough fraud

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

Both individuals were also arrested in relation to a suspected multi-million-pound tax fraud last month, including money laundering and VAT evasion.

They have been released under investigation.

More than £6m held in bank accounts controlled by the pair have been frozen by HMRC after its Taxpayer Protection Taskforce officers executed a search warrant on April 28.

The CJRS pays 80 per cent of employees' wages for the hours they cannot work in the pandemic.

At Budget 2021, the chancellor announced this scheme would be extended to the end of September, however employers will be expected to pay 10 per cent towards the hours their staff do not work in July, increasing to 20 per cent in August and September, as the economy starts to reopen. 

Janet Alexander, Taxpayer Protection Taskforce director at HMRC, said: “The CJRS 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.”

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

amy.austin@ft.com

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