• Saturday, April 20, 2024

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Wolverhampton’s ex-councillor, wife convicted of fraud

Wolverhampton magistrates’ court found a former councillor of Wolverhampton city and his wife guilty of false representation for securing a loan Covid loan. (Representational image by iStock)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

A FORMER councillor of Wolverhampton city and his wife have been convicted of fraud after they attempted to secure a pandemic loan with “false representation”.

Harman Banger used his knowledge from having cabinet responsibilities at Wolverhampton city council for overseeing the implementation of the Covid-19 bounce back loans to “cheat the system”, according to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Banger’s wife Neena Kumari submitted an application in April last year for a small business grant of £10,000 for Pizza Plus which they owned jointly, claiming that it had been operating since October 2019.

However, an investigation by the Wolverhampton council’s counter-fraud team and the West Midlands police established there were no records of electricity being supplied to the business address until May 16, 2020.

The property had been boarded up and was in a state of disrepair showing that the business was not operating as the pair had “fraudulently claimed” when applying for the financial assistance.

As a result of the investigation, the grant was not paid.

Wolverhampton magistrates’ court on Friday (17) found Banger and Kumari guilty of “fraud by false representation”.

Specialist fraud prosecutor Wendy Stevens said Banger “abused” his position of power alongside his wife “to defraud the public at a time of national crisis”.

“Banger had a deep understanding of the eligibility of such Covid-19 business support schemes and tried to exploit the system by claiming for a business that the pair knew was not eligible.”

In March 2020, the UK Government introduced financial assistance schemes for businesses whose trade was affected by Covid-19 lockdowns.

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