Home Inverness colorado loans Labor pushes ministers to authorize inquiry into ‘astronomical levels of fraud’

Labor pushes ministers to authorize inquiry into ‘astronomical levels of fraud’

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Labor is asking the Chancellor to allow the National Crime Agency (NCA) to investigate “astronomical levels of fraud” which they say have been committed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The party will use a one-day opposition day debate in the Commons on Tuesday to try to win government backing for an inquiry after it was revealed the Treasury would write off billions of pounds of Covid loans with cash having gone to “fraudsters”.

Simon Clarke, the chief secretary of the Treasury, said on Monday he did not acknowledge reports that his department was refusing to allow the NCA to investigate fraud associated with the coronavirus bounce-back loan scheme.

Treasury Minister Simon Clarke (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

But Labor said investigators must be allowed to investigate the alleged fraud and that Rishi Sunak must, by the end of March, provide an update on the amount recovered.

It comes after Lord Agnew’s dramatic resignation in the House of Lords last week.

Lord Agnew, who had been Minister for Efficiency and Transformation, resigned at the dispatch box, saying in his letter of resignation: ‘The failure of the Government to tackle fraud is, I believe, so glaring and the need to fix it so urgently that, in In the End, I felt the only option was to smash some dishes for people to notice.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “The £4.3billion of public funds lost to fraud and written off by the Chancellor shows how little respect he and his government have for UK taxpayers.

“His defense has always been that there was pressure to get help for businesses. That’s no excuse for not having minimal controls in place. And now the taxpayer is being asked to pay the Invoice.

“The Chancellor must allow the National Crime Agency to investigate these astronomical levels of fraud and come back with an update on how much taxpayers’ funds they have recovered from criminals by the end of this month. March.”

Lord Agnew of Oulton speaking in the House of Lords (PA)
Lord Agnew of Oulton speaking in the House of Lords (PA)

The £4.3billion figure has been disputed by the Treasury.

Mr Clarke told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘We simply do not acknowledge these claims and continue to work closely with the NCA and HMRC to prosecute those who have in any way taken the money.

“We just don’t give credit to the fact that we interfered with the ANC’s ability to do its job.”

Asked why Lord Agnew resigned as anti-fraud minister because of the way the rebound scheme was handled, Mr Clarke replied: “He is obviously frustrated, as we all are, by the fact that it is a problem affecting public money.

“We have set up a £100million task force with 1,300 staff precisely to ensure that anyone who has wrongfully taken money from any of the schemes we have set up will be prosecuted.

“And we didn’t write off all that money. We reserve the right to prosecute you if you have taken this money incorrectly, and anyone looking at this who has taken money improperly from the furlough scheme or a bounce back loan should contact HMRC and make reparation because the consequences of remaining schtum would not be good.”