In recent months the national press has covered many stories relating to the crackdown by the government of those suspected of carrying out Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Audit Office, it is now believed that around 11% of the loans granted went to people who applied fraudulently. This equates to an estimated £4.9 billion. If you are facing an investigation, prosecution or accusation of Bounce Back Loan Fraud (BBLS fraud), it is vital to engage a Solicitor or Barrister specialising in this field as early as possible. Facing an accusation of BBLS fraud can be deeply distressing, especially if you believe you have acted lawfully.
As one of the UK’s most highly-regarded, successful, and busy criminal and regulatory law firms, our Barristers and Solicitors have a wealth of experience in dealing with fraud investigations and prosecutions. The Legal 500 describes us as
“A forward-thinking firm with its finger on the pulse of the market. Head and shoulders above a lot of the competition. Agile and modern.”
Our modern and agile approach, allied to our experience, expertise, and determination, makes all the difference when it comes to winning cases for our clients, and this is especially so in the area of fraud. Not only do our in-house team have the experience and understanding of how to respond immediately to accusations of serious financial fraud, but we also work with the UK’s top forensic accounting experts. We will listen carefully to the details of your case, review the evidence available, and recommend a strategy for your defence at the earliest possible opportunity.
If you instruct our services, you can be assured that we will do all we can to avert prosecution; however, in some cases, a criminal trial is unavoidable. In this event, you can be assured that we will instruct the leading Counsel in BBLS fraud to provide you with the highest level of representation.
What was the Bounce Back Loan Scheme?
The BBLS was launched in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on 4th May 2020 by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Up to March 2021, the UK government provided guarantees for BBLS loans of up to £50,000 for companies impacted by the pandemic. The loans, which were administered by banks and other existing commercial lenders in the UK, were granted with a low-interest rate of 2.5% over a period of ten years with zero fees, and repayments were deferred for a year.
Due to the speed and urgency with which the BBLS was introduced, the lack of checks and scrutiny applied is now known to have allowed a considerable amount of fraud. In some cases, people had applied when they knew they were not eligible. In other cases, people have applied without understanding the rules. BBLS loan fraud was also made possible by the self-certification of documents that were required by lenders.
At Reeds, our specialist team of business fraud Barristers and Solicitors understand the circumstances which may have led to your being accused of BBLS fraud and understand how to provide the best possible defence and protection from prosecution.
Why am I facing an Accusation of Bounce Back Loan Fraud (BBLS)?
The reason why you have been accused of BBLS fraud should have been explained to you in writing. This can happen for a number of reasons; you may be accused of:
- Making an application when you were not eligible (e.g. by inflating the turnover of your business – the maximum loan was set at 25% of a company’s turnover)
- Setting up a fake business to make a loan
- Impersonating another legitimate business or person
- Using intermediaries to take out BBLS loans who then file for bankruptcy
- Applying to many lenders for a BBLS loan
In many cases, people are facing BBLS fraud due to errors made when applying or not understanding the rules. In others, another person within the business has made mistakes when applying for a BBLS, leaving directors to face the consequences.
Our team of business fraud Solicitors and Barristers have a wealth of experience in dealing with fraud investigations and prosecutions. We will look for evidence that a genuine mistake was made when applying to the BBLS and to show you don’t meet the criteria for dishonesty.
Which law covers Accusation of Bounce Back Loan Fraud in England and Wales?
Fraud is defined as the use of deception and/or false statements to gain a dishonest advantage. In England and Wales, the main laws relating to fraud include the Fraud Act 2006 and the Theft Act 1968. A person can be prosecuted for fraud for the following offences:
- Fraud by false representation
- Fraud through failing to disclose information where there is a legal duty to do so
- Fraud by abuse of position
To bring a successful case for fraud by false representation in England and Wales, it must be shown that the person dishonestly made a false representation and in doing so intended to make an unfair gain for themselves or another person, cause loss to another, or to expose another to a risk of loss.
What are the possible penalties for BBLS fraud?
There are a wide range of possible penalties for BBLS fraud. These may include:
- Disqualification as a director
- An order to pay compensation
- Serious Crime Prevent Orders (SCPOs).
- Civil recovery orders
- Civil settlements
- Civil penalties
The penalty levied will depend on the circumstances of the fraud, the amount involved, the extent of dishonesty, and whether an attempt was made to repay the amount. You can be assured that with one of our business fraud Solicitors or Barristers by your side, you will have the very best chance of avoiding any prosecution or mitigating any penalty levied.