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Lord Agnew accuses Treasury of complacency over Covid loans fraud

The minister who surrender over the federal government’s dealing with of multibillion-pound losses to criminals on a virulent disease mortgage scheme has criticised the Treasury’s best civil servant for being complacent about fraud and failing to just accept that errors had been made by way of his division.

Lord Agnew of Oulton informed MPs at the Space of Commons’ Treasury Choose Committee that Sir Tom Pupil, everlasting secretary to the Treasury, “embodies the whole thing in regards to the complacency that grips the civil provider” when he gave proof on alleged govt failings in administering the soar again mortgage scheme the day past.

Agnew, 61, resigned as a Treasury and cupboard place of business minister in January over what he claimed had been “desperately insufficient” efforts to prevent taxpayers’ cash being stolen from the scheme, which gave 1.6 million emergency loans value a complete of £47.4 billion.

Legitimate estimates counsel that £17 billion might by no means be repaid, with up to £5 billion concept to had been stolen. The loans are underwritten by way of the taxpayer, permitting banks to make a declare at the state to hide their losses.

Agnew mentioned a small counter-fraud workforce within the cupboard place of business used to be “close out” when the scheme used to be created and that the Treasury had no longer been clear, the Cupboard Place of business as a substitute grew to become to PwC for recommendation . “Why didn’t he move to the folk on his doorstep who perceive fraud in all its manifestations?”

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The federal government used to be warned by way of its personal British Industry Financial institution, that the scheme would disclose taxpayers to vital fraud dangers.

In a letter to the Treasury committee final week, Pupil mentioned the Nationwide Investigation Provider had made 49 arrests on the subject of alleged fraud within the scheme. He added {that a} “upper than standard” stage of fraud and mistake used to be inevitable as a result of such schemes concerned paying plenty of cash “as briefly as imaginable”.

Agnew mentioned this didn’t wash to excuse wholesale anti-fraud failings.

The Treasury mentioned final night time: “Fraud is completely unacceptable, and we’re taking motion on more than one fronts to crack down on someone who has sought to milk our schemes and produce them to justice.”