West London clothing trader exaggerated his turnover by more than 10 times the actual amount to falsely claim Covid loan
Muhammad Arif, 57, from Uxbridge, has been made subject to 10 years of bankruptcy restrictions for claiming a £50,000 Bounce Back Loan to which he was not entitled.
Arif had run a wholesale clothing business in west London, trading as Ayesha Boutique, from April 2012 until his bankruptcy in December 2021.
In June 2020, he had applied for a Bounce Back Loan, stating that his turnover for the previous year had been £219,000.
Bounce Back Loans were a government scheme to help businesses stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses could apply for loans of between £2,000 and a maximum of £50,000, up to 25% of their 2019 turnover.
However, Arif later filed a petition for bankruptcy, and was made bankrupt in December 2021 owing around £56,200, and triggering an investigation by the Insolvency Service. The investigation found that Arif’s actual turnover in 2019 was £21,604 – around 10 times less than he had claimed in the application.
Arif told investigators that around £34,200 of the £50,000 loan money was used to pay a supplier, including £19,000 for gold purchases, and around £8,900 in cash withdrawals. More than £15,500 had also gone to family members, which he said had been to repay loans.
The Official Receiver is continuing her enquiries into the payments to Arif’s family, but was unable to verify the explanation he gave to account for the remaining payments.
Under the rules of the Bounce Back Loan scheme, the money was to be used for the economic benefit of the business, but the Official Receiver was unable to determine whether any of the £50,000 loan was used to support Ayesha Boutique.
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy accepted a Bankruptcy Restrictions Undertaking from Muhammad Arif, which runs from 11 November 2022 and lasts for 10 years.
Mitzi Mace, Official Receiver at the Insolvency Service, said:
This scheme was specifically set up to support existing viable businesses through a challenging economic period and not for individuals’ personal benefit.
Muhammad Arif’s actions have led to losses to taxpayers while he has enjoyed the benefit of £50,000 to which he was not fully entitled.
Notes To Editors
Muhammad Arif is of Uxbridge and his date of birth is October 1965.
Details of Muhammad Arif’s BRU is available on the Individual Insolvency Register: Individual Insolvency Register - Home (bis.gov.uk).
Bankruptcy restrictions are wide ranging. The effects are the same whether you are subject to a bankruptcy restrictions order or to an undertaking. Guidance on the main statutory consequences flowing from a bankruptcy restrictions order or undertaking.