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05/01/24

Imprisonment for Covid Fraud

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On the 9 November 2023, Shahid Naseeb Ahmed was sentenced to imprisonment at Manchester Crown Court following conviction for fraud offences arising from the Government’s ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ and ‘Coronavirus Job Retention’ Schemes.

Helen Holder of KANGS reports upon the circumstances.

KANGS is highly regarded nationwide for defending clients facing Prosecution for allegedfinancial offences.

Our Team is led by Hamraj Kang, recognised as a leading expert and one of only two solicitors nationally to be ranked as a ‘Star Individual’ for eight consecutive years in the leading law directory Chambers UK.

Other members of the Team are also ranked by Chambers UK as well as The Legal 500.

For an initial no obligation discussion, please call our Team at any of our offices detailed below:

The Government Schemes | KANGS Serious Fraud Defence Solicitors

The Eat Out To Help Out Scheme (‘EOTHO’) was designed to encourage people to start eating out again after the disruptions created by the Covid Pandemic and provided a framework for the Catering Industry to claim back a discount on the price of a meal.

The Covid Job Retention Scheme (‘CJRS’) provided support to UK employers who could not afford to maintain their existing level of employees due to their trading activities being adversely affected by the Pandemic.

The Investigation | KANGS Financial Fraud Defence Solicitors

Between April 2020 and August 2021, Shahid Naseeb Ahmed, the owner of the Merchants Hotel in Manchester, submitted successful claims:

  • totalling £61,165 under EOTHO and
  • totalling £51,708 under CJRS.

Further claims were not successful following HMRC’s suspicions being raised.

Following investigations, it was discovered that Ahmed:

  • did not serve food in his hotel despite claiming for thousands of diners;
  • claimed for two hotels even though he only owned one;
  • claimed for full time staff who were in fact only employed part time;
  • claimed his staff were paid more than they were;
  • claimed the hotel had remained closed for periods when it actually open.

The Prosecution | KANGS Crown Court Solicitors

Following arrest, Ahmed:

  • admitted to overclaims in respect of CJRS and
  • that his claims under EOTHO were ‘completely fabricated.’

Banking enquiries established that Ahmed was the only person who received the funds from the fraudulently made claims.

Ahmed was charged with 32 counts of fraud. On the 1 August 2023, he pleaded guilty to 25 counts, with the remaining 7 counts ordered to ‘lie on file’.

On the 9 November 2023, at Manchester Crown Court, he was immediately jailed for a period of 40 months.

Official Comment:

Senior Crown Court Prosecutor Maqsood Khan, of CPS Mersey Cheshire’s Fraud Unit, said:

Shahid Ahmed cynically took advantage of two Government schemes designed to help businesses survive a national crisis.

He submitted fraudulent claim after fraudulent claim over many months – his fraud was systematic, deliberate and planned. He tried several ways to get as much money as he could.

There are lots of demands on the public purse and these schemes were designed to help genuine claimants. People like Shahid Ahmed undermine the system and take money that is badly needed elsewhere.’

How Can We Assist You? | KANGS Financial Crime Defence Solicitors

KANGS Solicitors fields a nationally recognised criminal defence Team offering in excess of twenty years’ experience representing clients across the country accused of fraud offences of every nature, frequently running into hundreds of millions of pounds.

In relation to HMRC investigations, tax assessments and enquires, we represent clients including corporates from a wide range of industries, professional individuals such as lawyers, accountants and stockbrokers as well as other private individuals such as company directors and shareholders.

How To Contact Us | KANGS National Criminal Defence Solicitors

We welcome new enquiries by telephone or email and, when necessary, our expert 24/7 Rapid Response Police Station Team is here to assist you on 07989 521 210 should you require advice and assistance out of office hours.

Our Team is also available via:

Telephone 0333 370 4333 

Email info@kangssolicitors.co.uk.

We provide initial no obligation discussion at our three offices in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Alternatively, discussions can be held virtually through live conferencing or telephone.

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