Cheshire East

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Ex-councillor and wife convicted over application for Covid-19 bounce back loan

A former councillor and his wife have been convicted of fraud by false representation after they applied for a Covid-19 bounce back loan.

The CPS claimed that Harman Banger had used knowledge from having Cabinet responsibility at Wolverhampton City Council for overseeing the implementation of the Covid-19 bounce back loans “to cheat the system”.

Banger’s wife Neena Kumari submitted an application for a small business grant of £10,000 for Pizza Plus, a business they shared ownership of, on 24 April 2020 claiming that it had been operating since October 2019.

However, an investigation by Wolverhampton City Council’s counter-fraud team and West Midlands police established there were no records of electricity being supplied to the business address until 16 May 2020.

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“The property had been boarded up and was in a state of disrepair showing that the business was not in fact operating as the pair had fraudulently claimed when applying for financial assistance,” the CPS said.

As a result of the investigation the grant was not paid.

Banger, 40, and Kumari, 38, were found guilty earlier this month (17 December) at Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court of fraud by false representation.

Wendy Stevens, specialist fraud prosecutor at CPS, said: “As a trusted, elected official, Harman Banger abused his position of power alongside his wife Neena Kumari in order to de-fraud the public at a time of national crisis.

“Banger had a deep understanding of the eligibility of such Covid-19 business support schemes and tried to exploit the system by claiming for a business that the pair knew was not eligible."

Sentencing for both Banger and Kumari will be at Birmingham Crown Court on 14 January 2022. 

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