Bounce Back Loan Fraud is Tip of The Iceberg. Here’s Why.

The latest from the UK Govt press office exposes the lamentable lack of Companies House checks that were carried out before hundreds of Covid loans were given out. Just one 10-second look at the Tia-Bella accounts would have revealed the application for a loan was a non-starter. But there’s more to learn about the people involved in Tia-Bella Ltd, plus associated companies, as Insurance Edge discovered.

There are valuable lessons for insurance company fraud teams here in the shambolic nature of bounce back loan allocation, plus the feeble attempts at unravelling the truth after companies go into liquidation.

Here’s the Insolvency Service bit;

Rebecca Simmons was a director of Tia-Bella Limited, trading from premises in Queen Street, Wolverhampton. (That address is a Mailbox office site, it is not a shop – IE Ed)

The company, a specialty balloon and gifts retailer, was incorporated in March 2019 but just over 2 years later in July 2021, Tia-Bella entered into creditors voluntary liquidation. Tia-Bella’s insolvency, however, triggered further enquiries from the Insolvency Service.

Investigators discovered that Rebecca Simmons had applied for a bounce back loan in May 2020, a loan from the government to support viable businesses during the pandemic, but received funds far greater than what Tia-Bella was entitled to. Rebecca Simmons had exaggerated the company’s turnover claiming it to be £180,000 and received a £45,000 loan. Investigators uncovered that based on available records, Tia-Bella’s annual turnover was a maximum of £1,300. This meant Tia-Bella was not entitled to even the minimum bounce back loan of £2,000.

Further enquiries uncovered that in the space of 2 months, Rebecca Simmons caused the company to make payments worth just over £31,000, including a £10,000 directors’ loans, £10,000 towards a company car, and £10,000 worth of repayments of deposits incurred before the pandemic.

Rebecca Simmons was unable to provide supporting documents, which left investigators unable to confirm whether the £45,000 bounce back loan benefited the business or not.

On 4 August 2022, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy accepted a 9-year disqualification undertaking from Rebecca Simmons after she did not dispute that she caused Tia-Bella Limited to apply for a government-backed Bounce Back Loan the company was not entitled to. Effective from 25 August, Rebecca Simmons is banned from directly, or indirectly, becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company, without the permission of the court.

NOBODY IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR IS FOLLOWING THE MONEY TRAIL

Insurance Edge has spent some time doing the job that public sector employees should have done when the loan was applied for back in 2020. Here’s what we discovered via Companies House in under 30 minutes.

The Tia-Bella company had no accounts published by 2020. It was impossible to apply for a loan since there was no turnover figure, no profit and loss accounted for at all. As IE stated earlier, the 33 Queen Street address is an accommodation address for companies to receive mail, it is NOT a retail shop. One glance at Google Streetview would have confirmed that fact.

Although Rebecca Simmons was a Director, S&N Sohl Consultancy had the majority shareholding in 2019. Navneet Sohl stated that she was NOT a person with significant control, even though she held 59 shares compared to the 49 held by Simmons.

After receiving the bounce back cash in 2020, Rebecca Simmons became a Director at Bed World in Nottingham, a company which is apparently involved in software, not beds, according to the SIC description on Companies House. Previously Bed World was known as Rolex Watches Ltd on Companies House. Bit dodgy, or a legit branch of the famous Swiss Rolex watchmaker, what do you think?

Simmons resigned from Bed World in 2021, as the Winding Up process began against Tia-Bella Ltd.

ADDRESS CAROUSEL

The Tia-Bella Ltd company address changed back in 2019, moving to an address in John Harper Street, Willenhall. Also at that address is a company called UR Air, who specialise in air conditioning.

One active Director of UR Air is Sandeep Sohl. Sandeep is also a Director of Process Design and Fabrication, based at John Harper Street, Willenhall. According to the last accounts Process Design and Fabrication has over £64,000 in cash at the bank.

Navneet Sohl is currently listed as a Director of Neetu’s Accessories, a dormant watch and jewellery company, with no accounts filed. They have a correspondence address at…guess where? Yep Units C,D & E, John Harper Street, Willenhall.

It may be the case that nobody from the Sohl family loaned money or invested in Tia-Bella Ltd, or received any dividend, loan repayment, or received other benefits in kind, like a car, or a Rolex. It may also be the case that Simmons did not move money from one of her companies to another. But perhaps it’s worth investigating ALL the company bank accounts, of all the companies based in Units C,D &E, John Harper Street, Willenhall and Bed World Nottingham, if you really do want to recover some of that £45,000 of taxpayer’s cash.

 

About alastair walker 9633 Articles
20 years experience as a journalist and magazine editor. I'm your contact for press releases, events, news and commercial opportunities at Insurance-Edge.Net

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