A man applied for a Covid loan for a business – and transferred money to his own bank account

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A MAN who worked for a Bradford law firm transferred a loan he applied for on behalf of the firm to his own bank account.

He is now excluded from the profession.

In a decision notice, the Solicitors Regulation Agency (SRA) said Mohammed Shokat, of Allerton, was employed by Apex Solicitors Limited on Manningham Lane, when he applied for a ‘bounce back’ loan in March 2020.

“It was found that in March 2020 Mr Shokat applied for a 100% government guaranteed loan for £50,000 for business purposes and made misleading statements on the application form,” indicates the notice of decision.

“He then transferred £49,512.30 of the loan money to his own bank account and that of a company of which he was the sole director and 100% shareholder. In doing so, Mr. Shokat acted dishonestly.

The SRA added that Mr Shokat, who was not a lawyer, was involved in a legal practice and had “caused or been party to an act or omission which involved conduct such as is not desirable that he is involved in legal practice in any of the ways described.

An order containing the following stipulations was issued: “No lawyer shall employ or remunerate him in connection with his practice as a lawyer; no employee of a lawyer shall employ or remunerate him in connection with the practice of the lawyer; no recognized body shall employ or remunerate him; no officer or employee of a recognized organization shall employ or remunerate him in relation to the business of that organization; no recognized organization or officer or employee of such an organization shall allow him to be an officer of the organization; and no Recognized Body or manager or employee of any such body will allow him to have any interest in the body except in accordance with the permission of the SRA. »

Apex Solicitors was shut down in December 2020 following an intervention by the SRA. Nothing in the SRA’s notice indicates that the company was aware of or involved in Mr. Shokat’s activities.

It is understood that the SRA informed the relevant authorities of its findings on Mr Shokat.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has recently been criticized by MPs for ‘unambitious plans’ to claw back money that should not have been paid out under leave and loan schemes launched during the pandemic.

However, HMRC hit back and said action was being taken on ‘multiple fronts to recover overpayments’.

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