Lukasz Nowak, a 43-year-old self-employed builder from Hounslow, West London was sentenced last week (27 November) to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to pay £12,000 compensation to the bank from which he borrowed the money.
In a familiar tale, in October 2020, just before Lockdown II but after Eat Out To Help Out, Mr Nowak applied for a £50,000 Bounce Back Loan, and received the full amount. He had stated on the loan application that his business had had turnover of £205,000 in the previous tax year.
Unsurprisingly, Lincoln Crown Court heard that Mr Nowak had overstated his income (shock, horror), which was only £20,000 for the relevant period, in order to obtain the loan.
As we know, under the rules of the Bounce Back Loan scheme, businesses could claim up to £50,000, depending on their previous year’s turnover, and the money had to be used to support the business financially.
The plot thickens as Mr Nowak then used the £50,000 to invest into cryptocurrency via an online broker. The cryptocurrency broker was also committing fraud, and stole the full amount Mr Nowak believed he was investing.
Mr Nowak was later declared Bankrupt in July 2021. NTI newsroom research reveals he is subject to a 7-year Bankruptcy Restrictions Undertaking which is due to end in February 2029.
During an investigation into the Bounce Back Loan fraud by the Insolvency Service in November 2022, Mr Nowak admitted his actions, and pleaded guilty when facing a hearing at Boston Magistrates’ Court in October 2023.
In addition to the suspended sentence, Nowak was also sentenced to 200 hours’ unpaid work and 15 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days as part of his sentence.
Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, Julie Barnes, said that “Nowak took advantage of a scheme designed to help those in financial need, without a thought for anyone else. [His] reckless actions, driven by intention to make a personal gain, resulted in loss to the public purse. His sentence shows that the Insolvency Service will not tolerate abuse of taxpayers’ money.”
Our roving reporter then had to quickfoot it to another story of a stable door being bolted after a horse had escaped.