Tuesday 12 January 2021 3:02 pm

PwC to examine possible fraud in govt coronavirus loan programme

The government-owned British Business Bank (BBB) has brought on PwC to examine cases of possible fraud in its Covid-19 business loans programme. 

The loan programme was established to help smaller businesses impacted by coronavirus.

According to website Consultancy.co.uk, BBB tapped PwC to look into possible fraud, having previously worked with the Big Four firm and its competitors Deloitte and KPMG on consultancy work. 

Read more: Exclusive: 33,000 suspicious activity reports filed as Covid fuels fraud

A British Business Bank spokesperson said: “We have recently appointed PwC as consultants to provide further insight into where fraud is being committed or attempted, helping to identify where further resources are required as well as enabling additional fraud-prevention measures to be put in place.”

In a letter to the PAC in October, British Business Bank CEO Catherine Lewis La Torre said 26,933 fraudulent loan applications had at that point been detected, with a value of £1.1bn.

Read more: UK warns of state-backed cyber criminals ‘exploiting’ coronavirus crisis

The BBB is an economic development bank owned but operated independently of the UK government. 

It aims to increase the supply of finance available to smaller businesses where it believes markets do not work well.

Reports of fraud have been rife throughout the pandemic. Some 33,000 suspicious activity reports linked to the Covid-19 pandemic were filed in 2020, suggesting government schemes designed to help people and businesses through the pandemic are open to abuse.

Elsewhere figured from HMRC said that between 5 and 10 per cent of the £39bn sum handed out by chancellor Rishi Sunak to support workers during the pandemic had been claimed fraudulently. 

PwC has been contacted for comment.