Five people arrested after major investigation into alleged money laundering and fraud involving Covid-19 funds

Police forces from across the region have arrested five people for alleged cases of fraud and money laundering.

Officers from West Midlands Police and Staffordshire Police participated in the arrests
Officers from West Midlands Police and Staffordshire Police participated in the arrests

The five people were arrested as part of a joint National Investigation Service (NATIS), Staffordshire Police, West Midlands Police, Devon & Cornwall Police and the NCA investigation into alleged cases of fraud and money laundering of public sector funds totalling approximately £1,000,000.

The arrests took place at various locations on Thursday and were for fraudulent claims from money intended to support businesses during the pandemic, namely the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

Three females aged 25, 28 and 30 and two males aged 30 and 31 were arrested for conspiracy to commit fraud, fraud by false representation and money laundering offences.

Michael Dineen, Deputy Director Head of Crime Operations at the NATIS said: “The teams of the National Investigation Service, as well as colleagues in policing are executing search warrants all over the country ensuring those that commit fraud against the schemes the government announced during the pandemic are brought to justice.

"I am sure that these funds would have been used to fund further criminal activity, which harms communities up and down the country.

“My officers will continue this great work and ensure, wherever possible, people are arrested, charged and the money taken from the public purse is recovered.”

Officers also executed two search warrants at addresses in Staffordshire and Derbyshire with evidence being seized, including electronic devices and paperwork.

The fraud involved an organised crime group fraudulently securing Covid-19 Business Bounce Back Loans (BBL’s), using false information to obtain public sector funds from a number of financial institutions.

The suspects have been released under investigation whilst enquiries continue.

Chief Inspector Clair Langley, Commander of East Staffordshire local policing team, said: “We are proud to support the National Investigation Service and National Crime Agency with a number of warrants and arrests across Staffordshire.

“The results today are testament to the co-ordinated approach, meticulous planning and superb work that has gone into this operation.

“We hope this sends a clear warning to others that we are committed to targeting those involved in fraud and financial criminality.”

Business Secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “The Government will not tolerate fraudsters stealing money from the taxpayer intended to support honest businesses and fund public services.

“It is right that anyone found to have defrauded taxpayers faces the full force of the law and I commend the work of the National Investigation Service in bringing fraudsters to justice.

“With an additional £48 million committed to tackling public sector fraud, we are equipping NATIS and other organisations with the right tools to ensure these criminals cannot run and have nowhere to hide.”

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