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Gift seller faked turnover to claim £50k covid loan

Gift seller faked turnover to claim £50k covid loan
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

The director of a gift business has been banned from acting as a director after exaggerating turnover to fraudulently claim a Covid bounce back loan.

Grisha Valchev, 43, of Enfield, has been ordered to repay £43,570 after abusing the bounce back loan scheme during the pandemic. In addition to the compensation order, the judge also disqualified Valchev as a director for nine years.

Valchev was a director of Healthy & Tasty Ltd, a north London-based gift company selling fruit baskets, chocolates, hampers and flowers, which was set up in 2016.

Healthy & Tasty Ltd went into liquidation in July 2021 with debts of £151,250, triggering an investigation by the Insolvency Service which uncovered the abuse of the loan scheme.

The main creditor was Zornitsa Teneva, who was related to Teodora Teneva, also a director of Healthy & Tasty, while Santander bank, which had made the bounce back loan, was owed the full £50,000.

Unusually this case went to court as Valchev disputed the Insolvency Service’s action resulting in the first compensation order requiring repayment of the bounce back debt.

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On 6 September 2023, District Judge Geddes at the High Court of Justice Business and Property Courts in Leeds imposed the order and disqualified Valchev, after hearing that the director had given false information to claim the maximum bounce back loan amount of £50,000 in May 2020.

The company’s actual turnover on which the loan should have been based was around £35,400, which meant Healthy & Tasty Ltd had been entitled to less than £9,000 and had ultimately received more than five times that amount.

Valchev argued in court that he was unable to repay the money, but the Judge rejected this, and ordered him to repay £43,570, which included the excess amount that he had falsely claimed, plus interest.

Rob Clarke, chief investigator of insolvent investigations north at the Insolvency Service, said: ‘Grisha Valchev abused taxpayers’ money to give his company an unfair advantage over other businesses impacted by Covid-19.

‘This is the first compensation order handed out to a director who challenged our case in court. It is a significant result for the Insolvency Service and shows that abuse of the public purse will not be tolerated.

‘Where there have been similar cases of abuse by a company director, we will be seeking further compensation orders and disqualifications.’

Valchev’s ban began on 27 September 2023 and lasts for nine years. His disqualification prevents him from becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company, without the permission of the court.

For answers to questions on Covid in the workplace, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Can I contractually require staff to have the Covid vaccine?

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