Barnet Council has made its first prosecution against a local business owner, for false applications for coronavirus Small Business Grants for a business that was no longer trading.

Barnet Council has made its first prosecution against a local business owner, for false applications for coronavirus Small Business Grants for a business that was no longer trading.

Mr Samuel Gabay, who owned Finest Catering Limited trading as SAMI’s restaurant, pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud at Willesden Magistrates Court and was fined £1,000.

A spokesperson for Barnet Council said: “Barnet Council is committed to protecting the public purse from fraud. This prosecution sends a message that our Corporate Anti-Fraud Team will investigate and take action against those who try to defraud the taxpayer.

“Criminals will continue to find new and creative ways in which to conduct fraud, and unfortunately, local authorities are prime targets because of the large sums of public money we manage.

“We will continue to work with partners and law enforcement agencies to prevent and investigate fraud, and to prosecute those responsible.”

In 2020, Mr Gabay made false applications for two separate grants that had been applied for in the sum of £25,000 and £10,000, one was a Small Business Grant and the other a Discretionary Business Support Grant.

Mr Gabay also owned Hendon Catering Limited trading as SAMI’s restaurant on 134 Brent Street, this business was legitimately trading. The use of the same documents for both grants with alterations made to the documents were submitted in an attempt to claim funding for his other premises which he owned at 157 Brent Street, which he claimed was trading as Finest Catering. Invoices and profit and loss accounts had been altered to make it appear that both restaurants were trading. He claimed at interview that the premises at 157 Brent Street was operating, but as a takeaway only.

The case was highlighted as being potentially fraudulent due to stringent pre-payment checks carried out by Barnet Council’s Business Rates team who had concerns due to the property being marked as empty.

The council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team carried out a visit to both premises and gathered evidence from witnesses, and analysed documentation to show that that the documents supplied in support of the applications had been altered. Due to the suspected fraud, payment was withheld.

Mr Gabay was summoned to the following charges. Two offences of Fraud by False Representation contrary to section 1 (2) of the Fraud Act 2006 (the two grant applications) and three offences of adapting and supplying articles for use in the course of or in connection with fraud contrary to section 7 Fraud Act 2006 (altered documents).

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