Comment: “impossible to comprehend” lack of Covid loan due diligence

Following the resignation of Conservative minister Lord Agnew, who has accused the Treasury of having “little interest in the consequences of fraud to our economy or our society”, Martin Cheek, managing director at SmartSearch commented: “The gargantuan loss of taxpayer money through fraudulent claims is a massively unnecessary waste. Especially coming at a time when the government can ill-afford to be wasting billions of pounds.

“The fact that over 1,000 companies which were not even trading when Covid struck and were granted loans, shows the complete lack of due diligence carried out.

“The argument that speed was of the essence and these loans were essential to support businesses is spurious, as there are systems that could have verified the validity of these claims within seconds. Balancing a few additional seconds against an estimated £4.3 billion of taxpayer money lost is an excruciatingly bad decision that is almost impossible to comprehend.

“Sadly, there are plenty of people that saw the pandemic as an opportunity to commit fraud. And with the government putting so few basic due diligence measures in place to prevent it, they essentially allowed this money to be fraudulently claimed.

“While the support loans have certainly helped businesses, by using a verification platform like SmartSearch, those legitimate businesses could still have been supported, and huge tax-payer losses could have been avoided.

“With the resignation of Lord Agnew, there needs to be a serious enquiry into why effective checks were not put in place, and how this can be prevented from ever happening again.”