A self-employed builder has been sentenced after overstating income to claim £50,000 through a covid support government loan, which he then lost in a scam crypto investment scheme.
Lukasz Nowak, 43, from Hounslow in West London, was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, at Lincoln Crown Court on 27 November.
He was also ordered to pay £12,000 compensation to the bank from which he borrowed the money.
Nowak applied for a Bounce Back Loan in October 2020 and received the maximum £50,000 amount after stating on the application that his business had a turnover of £205,000 for the previous tax year.
However, the court heard that Nowak had overstated his income – which was approximately £20,000 for the relevant period – to claim the money.
Nowak then used the loan money to invest in cryptocurrency through an online broker. But the crypto broker was also committing fraud and stole the full amount of the Bounce Back Loan money Nowak thought he was investing.
He was declared bankrupt in July 2021.
Clamping down on covid loan abuse
Nowak admitted his actions in November 2022 during an investigation by the Insolvency Service and pleaded guilty at a first hearing at Boston Magistrates’ Court on 9 October 2023.
The judge also included 200 hours unpaid work and 15 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days – a measure which helps to address offending behaviour – as part of his sentence.
The Insolvency Service has been investigating cases where individuals abused the Bounce Back Loan Scheme. It allowed businesses during the pandemic to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of company turnover in the calendar year 2019, with a maximum loan of £50,000.
Earlier this year, a scaffolding boss was disqualified as a director for 11 years after fraudulently claiming £50,000 in Covid loan support. Two other construction businessmen were also banned from running a company for a total of 16 years after breaching the rules of the same Bounce Back Loan Scheme.
Commenting on Nowak’s sentence, chief investigator at the Insolvency Service, Julie Barnes, said: “Nowak’s reckless actions, driven by the intention to make a personal gain, resulted in loss to the public purse.
“His sentence shows that the Insolvency Service will not tolerate abuse of taxpayers’ money.”
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