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Furlough Fraud Defence Solicitors
If you are under investigation or face a prosecution for furlough fraud, we can offer clear legal advice, assistance and robust representation to help with your defence.
Whether you have made an honest mistake when applying the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to your business or someone within the business is suspected of committing furlough fraud, the expert regulatory solicitors at JMW can help you prepare a strong defence and protect your position. This can include advice from our highly experienced employment lawyers.
Our business crime team is highly experienced in supporting individuals and businesses accused of all types of fraud and is ranked Tier 1 for fraud by The Legal 500, so we are well placed to advise, assist and represent you if you’re facing accusations of furlough fraud. We also represent businesses and individuals in appeals to the Tribunals against HMRC determinations where the Revenue do not pursue criminal charges but seek to recover overpayments by civil enforcement.
We work with clients to achieve the best possible service by combining the expertise of our team to ensure you have the strongest defence possible.
Due to the complex nature of fraud cases and HMRC appeals, it is often necessary to put together a team to help build the strongest possible defence case that may include financial service professionals, accountants and forensic computer experts, as well as media law and reputation management advisers.
For your case to stand the best chance of success, you should seek our legal counsel from the moment you are informed of an investigation. However, we are able to provide guidance and representation at any point during the case.
Types of Furlough Fraud
HMRC has made it clear that they will take action against anyone found to have dishonestly claimed under the government’s coronavirus support schemes: the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This can include:
- Undeclared overpayments
- Use of the grant for anything other than paying employees’ wages
- Reducing wages below the amount claimed
- Requiring staff to undertake work when part of the scheme
- Claiming for workers no longer employed by the business
- Protect Your Business Against Accusations of Furlough Fraud
Work Constructively with HMRC Investigators
If you are being investigated by HMRC for furlough fraud and are worried you may have accidentally breached the rules, it is important to work constructively with investigators, as criminal proceedings may be pursued where there is evidence of deliberate dishonesty. It may be possible to avoid criminal allegations and confie HMRC enforcement to civil liability.
Any cases where genuine mistakes have been made should be rectified in cooperation with HMRC to bring the matter to a swift conclusion.
Self-report Any Suspicions Within Your Business
Should you have a suspicion that someone within your business has committed furlough fraud or has made a relevant mistake, it is important to act quickly as failure to react could have serious consequences for you and your business. It might be advisable to self-report the issue to HMRC to protect your company and yourself from criminal or civil proceedings. We can advise on whether self-reporting is a viable solution for you.
How to Respond to an HMRC Investigation for Furlough Fraud
Being investigated by HMRC can be confusing and very stressful, so it is important that you get advice on your legal position and what steps you need to take next to make sure you fully cooperate with HMRC investigators.
Any attempts to hinder an investigation for furlough fraud could result in harsher penalties. We can help you respond appropriately and make sure you disclose any required information while keeping your interests protected.
If HMRC suspects you have engaged in furlough fraud, they can apply for search warrants, production orders or account freezing orders. In some cases, they may make an application for a restraint order under the Proceed of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), meaning you could lose access to your personal property and bank accounts, as well as your business assets. To find out about how we handled restraint orders, take a look at our dedicated page.
What are the potential penalties for furlough fraud?
Potential penalties for furlough fraud include:
- Up to 10 years imprisonment
- An unlimited fine
- Director disqualification
- A requirement to repay any payments made under the scheme
- Prosecution costs
- The imposition of severe fines, interest and costs, from a civil perspective
Your business could also suffer serious reputational damage if found guilty of furlough fraud.
Talk to Us
If you need advice and representation from expert solicitors to fight allegations of furlough fraud, contact JMW today by calling 0800 652 5559, or by filling in our online enquiry form to request a call back.
Take a look at our blog posts for more information on furlough fraud: