Eight businesses flagged for alleged wage subsidy fraud, MBIE says

Source: 1 NEWS

Eight businesses have already been flagged for taking advantage of the wage subsidy scheme just over two weeks into a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown. 

The Finance Minister says the subsidy is protecting the jobs and incomes of 1.6 million workers.

As of August 31, the total number of wage subsidy complaints the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) had received were 190, MBIE said in a statement to 1 NEWS.

Katherine MacNeill, MBIE's general manager of employment services, said the total number of wage subsidy complaints resolved or closed was 72.

"The total number of wage subsidy complaints we have referred to the Ministry of Social Development as alleged fraud/eligibility is eight.

"The main themes alleged or complained about include: employers not passing on the wage subsidy to employees as per scheme requirements, employees being made to take leave, claiming the wage subsidy for a non-employed person, and non-essential services – (i.e, being made to go work when not an essential worker)," MacNeill said. 

Following last year's level 4 lockdown, figures released by MSD showed more than 13,000 New Zealand businesses had been advised to repay money granted to them under the Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme.

A total of 13,163 repayments had been requested from businesses, and that 10,114 of those had already been repaid as of July 17, 2020, MSD's group general manager for client service support, George van Ooyen, said.

As of August last year, over $13 billion had been paid out in the wage subsidy scheme.