Director jailed over fake grant claims

An IT company director who submitted false invoices to government claiming to have supported businesses has received a two-year jail term and been disqualified for eight years

Southwark Crown Court heard that Michael Frempong-Taylor was a director of Germinate Business Ltd. The company provided IT and management consultancy services and was an accredited supplier for the government’s growth vouchers programme.

This scheme ran between January 2014 and March 2015 and aimed to encourage small businesses to access expert advice. Businesses registered to the scheme received a voucher that offered up to £2,000 to cover half the costs of buying strategic business advice from accredited private sector suppliers.

Businesses would then agree for the supplier to submit a claim form for payment, which would include proof that the business had received the advice and paid the accredited supplier half of the cost of that advice.

The supplier would then claim the other 50% of the cost of this advice from the government up to maximum value of £2,000.

Frempong-Taylor made £6,000 worth of applications for payments to the government. But following confidential investigations, the Insolvency Service found that three of the applications and connected invoices were fraudulent as Germinate had not done any work for these businesses.

Following his trial Frempong-Taylor, currently residing in London, was convicted of three counts of fraud and three counts of false accounting.

Judge Gledhill said: ‘I take the view this is a very serious offence due to its sophistication, you were near defrauding the department of thousands of pounds.

‘You would undoubtedly have done more had the scheme not ended. You were deliberately targeting public money for your own benefit.’

As well as being given a two-year jail sentence, Frempong-Taylor was also disqualified from acting as a company director for eight years.

Ian West, chief investigation officer for the Insolvency Service, said: ‘Michael Frempong-Taylor cynically and intentionally tried to reap personal reward from a programme intended to help small businesses grow.

‘This sentence should act as a warning to any other directors tempted to fraudulently apply for government funds that the consequences are severe.’

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