Thousands of pounds worth of taxpayer backed Covid loans have allegedly been used to fund terrorist activities abroad.
Tarek Namouz, a 42-year-old former pub landlord from London, faces eight charges of terrorist funding between November 2020 and May 2021, the Financial Times first reported.
Namouz stands accused of sending “the proceeds of coronavirus bounce back funding loans to Isis,” Prosecutor Jonathan Polany told a London court today. He is also facing two counts of possessing terrorist information relating to videos.
The bounce back loan scheme was set up to provide small businesses with emergency financial support amid the unprecedented financial disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses were able to claim up to £50,000 in financing, with the loans fully backed by the government in the case of default.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which oversaw the policy, estimates that as much as £17bn of the £47bn loan scheme will never be repaid while £4.9bn may have been lost to fraud.
Money obtained from the Covid loan scheme is believed to have been smuggled out of the country, according to an investigation by the Times. The Home Office has confirmed that border officials seized suitcases filled with cash linked to taxpayer backed Covid loans.
Over £100m of taxpayer backed loans have been dished out to firms which were created after the pandemic began, signalling lax oversight of Covid loan claims by government.