A plumber from Plymouth has avoided jail after he invented a fake company and fabricated turnover to secure two bounce back loans for £60,000 at the start of the pandemic
Michael Bingham, 43, from Plymouth spent thousands of pounds from the two covid loans on a family holiday, a puppy, shopping, and gambling. He even transferred more than £20,000 to his father-in-law to start a drive-laying business.
He was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years, when he appeared at Plymouth Crown Court on 25 January. He will also have to complete 150 hours of unpaid work in the next 12 months.
The court heard that Bingham secured two bounce back loans by inventing turnover figures and making up the name of a company just one day before submitting an application.
Due to the lack of financial checks and company verification of applicants, two loans for a combined £60,000 were paid out within days, with one approved at the maximum £50,000 loan cap.
Bingham first applied for a £10,000 loan in June 2020, claiming his PCB Plumbing business had a turnover of £40,000.
In subsequent interviews, he admitted to Insolvency Service investigators that he invented this figure.
Bingham ignored the rules of the scheme which stated the loans had to be used for the economic benefit of the business by transferring the money to his personal account.
Just one month later, he was given a £50,000 loan, based on a fake application using a totally fabricated company name called M and B Gas Installations.
Investigators discovered that M and B Gas Installations never traded and it had not been registered with Companies House.
Julie Barnes, chief investigator at the Insolvency Service, said: ‘Michael Bingham showed a complete disregard for a scheme to help businesses survive in the pandemic on not just one, but two separate occasions.
‘He spent taxpayers’ money on his own personal living expenses, using the loans for a family holiday, gambling, and even to buy a puppy.
‘Bingham provided a totally fictitious turnover for his business, invented another, and never had any intention of paying the money back.’