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The UK Chancellor and regulatory and enforcement agencies have acknowledged the fraud risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

8 April 2020

Aziz Rahman of financial crime solicitors Rahman Ravelli emphasises the importance of companies doing the same.

In announcing financial assistance for the UK’s self-employed affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Chancellor Rishi Sunak acknowledged the scheme may be attractive to those looking to perpetrate fraud. 

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has gone to great lengths to warn that the present situation may be exploited by those looking to defraud, using anything from investment fraud and advance fee fraud through to clone firms. The National Crime Agency (NCA) is also highlighting virus-related fraud risks posed by the likes of bogus online medical equipment suppliers, fake HM Revenue and Customs, bank and loan company officials and computer hackers.

Also in response to the pandemic, Business Secretary Alok Sharma has announced a temporary suspension of the wrongful trading provisions. But the law in relation to fraudulent trading - and the potential for director disqualification – remains in place.

Such developments do show that the current problems being faced by businesses are recognised by the government.  But it should be emphasised that, despite the unusual circumstances, the law and the agencies that enforce it are still functioning; even if changes are being made. Companies cannot, therefore, expect to be immune from either the dangers of fraud or the consequences of becoming involved in it.

It is now, therefore, arguably more important than ever to be alert to the risks. This means having well thought-out and properly executed measures in place to prevent and / or identify fraud and being able to respond swiftly and in the appropriate manner whenever fraud is suspected.

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