The owner of an ice cream shop has been hit with a 10 year ban after abusing a Covid support scheme.
Belinda Bakerman falsely claimed the maximum £50,000 government loan for her business in Southport.
Ms Bakerman submitted false information to get the Bounce Back Loan (BBL) despite her shop, Bella’s Ice Cream shop, only being eligible for a fraction of what she received.
A large chunk of that money was then moved into a company owned by a relative, despite this being against the rules, while almost none of the £50k was repaid by the time the business was liquidated.
The government launched the BBL scheme during the Covid-19 pandemic as a way to help small and medium-sized businesses firms survive the loss of trade.
Businesses such as Bella's, based on Lord Street in the town centre, had suffered a complete loss of trade during lockdown and then continued to struggle afterwards.
However, there were strict rules applied to its terms which included a requirement for the money to be spent only for the benefit of the business.
There was also a maximum amount available of 25% of annual turnover for companies set up before 2019 or the same percentage of estimated turnover for that set up later.
In the application, Ms Bakerman falsely claimed the company was set up in March 2019 to take advantage of the scheme and said turnover would be £200,000 when applying in March 2020 - this enabled the maximum amount of £50,000 to be loaned.
However, an investigation by the Insolvency Service found that the business had been formed in December 2018 and the accounts showed a turnover of £52,000 between March 2019-20. Meanwhile, bank analysis shows receipts of just £31,000 for that period.
In the application, Ms Bakerman, of Sherringham Road, claimed the turnover was based on projections of plans to move into a café style business despite the company not being allowed to use projections in the application.
In a letter from the Insolvency Practitioner dated February 17, 2023, it states that "the director has accepted that the turnover was overstated in the BBL application".
The investigation also found that the money was paid into the firm's account on May 19, 2020, leaving a credit balance of a little under £55,000.
Over a two week period in June, some £32,000 was was paid into an account held by an associated limited company.
According to the Insolvency Service, "no evidence has been provided to show this was for the economic benefit of BIC, as required".
It also found that at liquidation in October 2021, £49,000 of the £50,000 BBL remained outstanding.
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