Saturday, December 4

UK National Crime Agency warns bounce back loan scheme exploited by criminals

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LONDON — Britain’s National Crime Agency warned on Friday that it would investigate serious and organized crime linked to a bounce back loan scheme, aimed at helping businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic, after intelligence suggested it was being exploited.

“On the basis of our assessments, we have provided red flag indicators to the banking sector to aid their detection of fraudulent applications,” a spokesman said.

“We are providing intelligence to assist partner investigations, and we will investigate cases ourselves where there is a serious and organized crime element.”

The bounce back loan scheme, which was launched in Britain on May 4, allows banks to lend up to 50,000 pounds ($64,700) with 100% state backing.

Banks have lent more than 38 billion pounds through 1.2 million-plus loans since its launch.

But experts have warned since its inception that the scheme, which relies on self-certification to test eligibility, is open to fraud and misuse.

($1 = 0.7728 pounds) (Reporting by Kirstin Ridley, editing by Lawrence White)