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Restaurant owner jailed as government continues crackdown on Covid bounce back loan fraud

In a stern move against loan fraud, Ilhan Kekec, the owner of a Turkish restaurant, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

Mr Kekec, who unlawfully applied for a £30,000 Covid Bounce Back Loan and subsequently attempted to dissolve his company without notifying creditors, was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on Monday 18 March.

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Mr Kekec had set up a new venture that was only able to trade for three weeks before the Covid lockdown, at which point he was unable to open. However, he falsely claimed a turnover of £125,000 for his business in his loan application.

After being granted the loan, he withdrew the cash to clear personal debts instead of investing it in his business. Kekic subsequently applied to dissolve his company in June 2020, saying that the restaurant was no longer economically viable. However, he failed to fulfil his statutory duty to notify the company’s creditors and so compounded his offences.

Julie Barnes, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, condemned Kekec’s actions, saying: “Ilhan Kekec saw an opportunity in the early weeks of the pandemic to receive a Covid loan which he never intended to repay. His actions were thoroughly dishonest and at no point did he ever own up to his crimes. He will now have the chance to reflect on his behaviour from behind bars.”

Kekec’s sentencing sends a clear message that the government will continue to prosecute those who abused the Covid Bounce Back loan scheme. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/restaurant-owner-jailed-for-abusing-covid-loan-then-dissolving-his-company

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