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LONDON: An Indian-origin businessman in south east England has been sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment after admitting abuse of an interest-free loan offered by the UK government to businesses to cope with the Covid-19 lockdown.
Kulwinder Singh Sidhu, 58, from Stanwell in Surrey, pleaded guilty to offences under the UK Companies Act and the Fraud Act for having abused the Bounce Back Loan financial support scheme in 2020.
He was director of Wavylane Ltd, a haulage company based in Stanwell trading since 2010, and was found to have dissolved it soon after receiving a 50,000-pound taxpayer-funded loan and transferring the funds to a personal account.
“Our action has ensured repayment of the loan money and taxpayers have not been left out of pocket,” said Julie Barnes, Chief Investigator at the UK’s Insolvency Service.
“Any other company directors who might be tempted into dissolving their business to try to keep public money they are not entitled to, should be aware they are risking a lengthy prison term,” she said.
Under the UK government’s Bounce Back Loan scheme, genuine businesses impacted by the pandemic could take out interest-free taxpayer-backed loans of up to a maximum of 50,000 pounds.
Sidhu applied on behalf of his business on June 9, 2020, and it was paid into his company bank account.
On 26 June 2020, Sidhu filed paperwork with the UK’s Companies House to have the business dissolved.
The striking-off application to dissolve the company was explicit that interested parties and creditors, such as a bank with an outstanding loan, must be notified within seven days of making an application to dissolve a company.
The form also highlighted that failure to notify interested parties is a criminal offence, however, the Insolvency Service found Sidhu did not follow these rules.
The company was ultimately dissolved in October 2020 and went on to be identified as likely Bounce Back Loan fraud by the Insolvency Service and cross-government counter-fraud systems.
Their investigation found that Sidhu had “fraudulently” overstated the company turnover in the Bounce Back Loan application, and within two days of receiving the money he had transferred it to his personal account before dispersing the funds to his son and another company.
Sidhu went on to plead guilty at Guildford Crown Court in December last year and was sentenced this week at the same court, which also imposed a confiscation order for 50,000 pounds – which has been paid in full.
In addition to the custodial sentence, Sidhu is disqualified as a company director for six years.




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#Indianorigin #businessman #jailed #Covid #loan #abuse #Times #India

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