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Three London city workers arrested amid fraud probe into coronavirus bounce back loans of £6 million

April Roach
·2 min read
 (PA)
(PA)

Three men who worked for the same London financial institution have been arrested as part of an investigation into fraudulent coronavirus bounce back loans totalling £6 million.

The city workers are suspected of using their “specialist knowledge” to carry out the scam, said the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Two of the suspects, aged 30 and 31, were arrested at their office by members of the NCA’s Complex Financial Crime team, while the third, aged 30, was arrested at an address in Camden.

Gary Cathcart, head of financial investigation at the NCA said: “Ensuring the integrity of the financial sector is a vital part of our work to tackle illicit finance.

“Professional enablers who use their specialist knowledge to facilitate criminal activity represent a significant threat, and the NCA will continue to work closely with our partners to target anyone involved in fraud.”

The Government’s bounce back loan scheme was introduced in May to give small and medium-sized firms access to low-interest finance quickly.

Companies can borrow between £2,000 and up to 25 per cent of their turnover up to a maximum of £50,000.

Under the terms, the Government guarantees 100 per cent of the loan and there are no fees or interest for the first 12 months, followed by an interest rate of 2.5 per cent a year after that.

The NCA said the £6 million in bogus claims are believed to have been made through the use of false data and documents.

The three suspects have been released while inquiries into the extent of the fraud and whether other people were involved continue.

Last summer the Fraud Advisory Panel, Spotlight on Corruption and Transparency International wrote a joint letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging the Treasury to publish the names of all the recipients of the coronavirus loans.

The anti-fraud organisations were concerned taxpayers could be exposed to millions of pounds of potential theft under its coronavirus loan schemes.

At the time, a Treasury spokesman said the Government expects everyone to “act responsibly and in the spirit of the package, and only claim and use support as intended”.

Additional reporting by PA Media.

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