Bouncing back badly by Syed Rahman, Partner at financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli

Syed Rahman examines the fraud-friendly faults that have been highlighted in the government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

As an end-of-year report, the National Audit Office’s assessment of the government’s fraud prevention measures for its Covid-19 Bounce Back Loan Scheme has a very strong “could do better’’ tone about it.

The NAO has branded the government’s measures inadequate and has made it clear that improvements need to be made if there is to be any chance of recovering the estimated £5 billion that has been stolen. It has pointed to a current focus on organised crime’s attempts to abuse the programme, which it says will mean that many lower-level fraudsters will go undetected or at least unpunished.

There have been accusations of too little being done too late. For a scheme that guaranteed bank loans of up to £50,000 to help businesses during the pandemic, its emphasis was on delivering the money as swiftly as possible with the bare minimum of checks being made.

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