Home detention for false Covid-19 loan claim

An Auckland woman who tried to claim nearly $60,000 in Covid-19 relief money has been sentenced to home detention.

Samantha Paul applied for money via the small business cashflow scheme for three different taxpayers, as well as one for her own company and one in her own name. Inland Revenue said she knew she was not entitled to any of the money.

It said she also illegally accessed myIR accounts.

The three unrelated taxpayers were clients of a tax agency where she had worked in 2018 and 2019. She had kept the myIR login details, which allowed her to login and see their tax information.

She applied for $59,000 and was paid just over $47,000 before it was discovered what she was doing. About $12,000 had been recovered, Inland Revenue said.

The money was paid to her accounts and that of an associate, Jason Gray.

Inland Revenue said the cashflow scheme operated on a “high trust” model so that small businesses could access money quickly.

It said this was a case of theft from the community.

Paul was sentenced to 23 months’ imprisonment but the judge commuted it to a sentence of 11 months home detention, noting she had a young child in her care.

Gray was sentenced to 20 months in prison in May last year on charges of dishonestly using the cashflow scheme’s application form to get nearly $14,000. He was also sentenced on forgery and breach of home detention.

Paul was told she would be sent to prison if she reoffended during her home detention sentence.

The small business cashflow scheme offered a loan over five years, with repayments not required in the first two years.

Generally, interest was not charged on the first two years.

Inland Revenue data shows there were 129,491 individuals and organisations given a small business cashflow loan.

Of those, 9223 were in default, and 932 of those had subsequently been paid back.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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