Daily Mail

Barclays steps up fight with Covid fraudsters

- By John-Paul Ford Rojas

a PUSH by Barclays to claw back millions of pounds from Covid loan fraudsters spurred a surge in the number of companies forced to wind up last month.

Compulsory liquidatio­ns climbed to 242 in october, up from 210 in September and just 53 a year earlier. It was the highest number since before the pandemic, during which government support schemes and bank-payment holidays offered struggling businesses a lifeline.

The Insolvency Service said the rise was partly caused by ‘a large number of petitions’ from one bank, Barclays, which issued 45.

But there was also a broader increase in the number of firms going bust.

The Mail on Sunday revealed earlier this year that Barclays has enrolled a litigation firm to claw back money from around 100 Bounce Back Loan (BBL) borrowers so far identified as being suspected of fraud.

Barclays issued 345,006 loans worth £10.8bn under the Government’s backed BBL scheme, but it is estimated that £259m was siphoned off by criminals. Companies can face compulsory liquidatio­n when creditors such as banks petition for them to be wound up. It does not mean those companies are suspected of fraud. But Barclays’ pursuit of fraudsters increased the overall number of companies it targeted.

a spokesman for the bank said: ‘Barclays looks to support customers who are facing financial difficulty, including those who borrowed under government schemes.

‘However, in certain circumstan­ces, including where there appears to be a misuse of funds, formal recovery action may be taken to recover taxpayers’ money.’

The official figures also showed company insolvenci­es overall – including voluntary winding up, administra­tions and restructur­ing deals known as company voluntary arrangemen­ts – rose by 1,948 last month, 38pc up on last year.

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