Sameer Saeed, 42, from London and Antonia Parkes, 35, from Conwy, have each been convicted for offences under the Companies Act, after being found to have abused the Bounce Back Loan financial support scheme in 2020.
Sameer Saeed was convicted on four counts under the Companies Act and Fraud Act following an Insolvency Service investigation.
Saeed was sole director of Digital Business Box Ltd and The Home Wills Ltd. In relation to the former, he secured a £50,000 Bounce Back Loan based on inflated turnover, and applied to dissolve the company two weeks later. In relation to the latter, he attempted to secure a £50,000 Bounce Back Loan although the company had only been established on 31 March 2020 and was therefore not eligible for any funding through the scheme. He did not receive the funds, but his attempt to secure a second loan was deemed an aggravating aspect in court.
He pleaded guilty to offences under the Companies Act as well as fraud offences. Saeed was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 21 December 2022 to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and 300 hours of unpaid work. He has undertaken to repay the £50,000 Bounce Back Loan to the bank.
In a separate case, Antonia Parkes was convicted of an offence under the Companies Act.
She was director of Conwy Valley Lodge Ltd, which ran a hotel close to Snowdonia in Wales. The company situation deteriorated after the start of the pandemic, and she sought financial assistance from the government. Through the Bounce Back Loan scheme, genuine businesses impacted by the pandemic could take out interest-free loans of up to £50,000.
The Insolvency Service investigation found that Parkes had secured a £20,000 Bounce Back Loan, immediately before she applied to dissolve the company.
The striking-off application to dissolve the company was explicit that interested parties and creditors, such as a bank with an outstanding loan, must be notified within seven days of making an application to dissolve a company. The form also highlighted that failure to notify interested parties is a criminal offence, however Parkes did not heed this warning.
She was sentenced on 14 December 2022 at Llandudno Magistrates Court to 26 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months, with an unpaid work requirement of 120 hours.
Julie Barnes, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:
In each of these two cases the company directors thought they could abuse the rules to exploit a scheme, backed by taxpayers, designed to help businesses get through the pandemic.
We will not hesitate to prosecute these cases, and they both now have criminal convictions as a consequence of their actions.
Sameer Saeed is of Ilford in London and his date of birth is November 1980.
Digital Business Box Ltd – company reg no. 11955597.
The sentence result was announced at Snaresbrook Crown Court by Judge Rosa Dean on 21 December 2022.
Antonia Jill Parkes is of Conwy and her date of birth is February 1988.
Conwy Valley Lodge Ltd – company reg no. 12215541.
The sentence result was announced at Llandudno Magistrates court by Judge Gwyn Jones on 14 December 2022.