UK has classified $1.3 bln of COVID ‘bounce back’ loans as suspected fraud

The British government is set to release data showing around 1.1 billion pounds of small business loans ($1.27 billion) made under a COVID-19 emergency lending scheme has already been classified as suspected fraud, Reuters reports quoting a source.

The previously unpublished data from Britain’s Department for Business, Energy and Industry (BEIS) gives the first firm indication of likely fraud levels in the scheme, which has faced scrutiny over the quality of checks on borrowers.

British banks handed out 47 billion pounds in total in government-guaranteed ‘bounce back loans’ from May 2020 to struggling small businesses hit by COVID-19 lockdowns.

A publication date for the latest report has not been fixed and the data are yet to be finalised, the source with direct knowledge of the data said.

The 1.1 billion pounds represents the current level of loans that have been flagged as suspect, and more could come to light.

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