Anonymous
Share this content
33

Chartered Accountants fraudulently claiming CJRS

My firm has claimed CJRS for 90% of staff whilst wanting them to work

Didn't find your answer?

I am posting anonymously due to the nature of the question, I hope this is understood.

I work for a firm of Chartered Accountants, small-medium sized. Advised we were being furloughed in March, and this continued for April and May. Was initially told "we cannot ask you to work, however, you can if you want to due to having nothing else to do or if you want to keep our clients happy, we will also top your pay up to 100%". We then received phonecalls weekly from the partners asking what work we had done and what we are expecting to do in the next week. If we didn't work, the work wouldn't have got done for our clients. We were actually busier.

My question is what can we actually do about it? Except resigning (which most people couldn't afford to in this climate), and making a report through HMRC's CJRS fraud reporting service, what else should/could we be doing?

 

EDIT 1 (To preserve anonymity)

Thanks for all of the responses. I have submitted a report to the institute and also to HMRC.

Regarding whether I am 100% certain CJRS has been claimed or not - I am 95% sure. We received a letter in March advising us of furlough but 100% pay. Then we were asked to take a 20% pay cut for May (but still work, unbelievable! Most people did very little work) then for June they paid us 100%. I am as sure as I can be that they claimed furlough without actually seeing the bank statements.

 

EDIT 2:

Once again, thank you all for the responses. We received letters in March advising us we were being put on furlough. Our payslips then showed the furlough payment and the top up amount seperately, for April, May and June. We were told to come back in the office from 1 July, so assumed we are no longer being furloughed, however no letter confirming this has been received.

Replies (33)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

Psycho
By Wilson Philips
30th Jul 2020 13:43

Report. That is your only ‘obligation’

Thanks (1)
avatar
By jonharris999
30th Jul 2020 13:45

ICAEW.

Thanks (1)
boat
By SouthCoastAcc
30th Jul 2020 14:03

Report and hope the firm doesn't go broke.

Thanks (3)
avatar
By Mr_awol
30th Jul 2020 14:26

Are you sure they claimed furlough grants - i.e. were you told to keep it quiet etc? It seems very likely they have, from what you have said, but it could be they panicked, furloughed you all, then when homeworking wasn't too bad, they actually reversed that decision and decided to 'stay open'.

Assuming you are confident that they are likely to have dishonestly have broken the rules:
1) Look for a new job. If your employers, supposedly a professional firm of accountants, are willing to do this then what else will they do? Will you be learning bad habits from them? Will your name be tainted from having worked for them?
2) Report them to The Institute, especially if you are a member of a professional body, particularly ICAEW.
3) Enter full details at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/r...

I wouldn't resign 'out of principle' without finding a new job - that would be stupid. Whether you contact your own professional body and explain that you're quitting on principle as soon as you find something with a more honest firm, is up to you.

Thanks (0)
David Winch
By David Winch
30th Jul 2020 14:24

Sensible answer - talk in confidence to the ICAEW ethics helpline.
Technical answer - if you believe a fraud has been committed, as a consequence of information which has come to you in the course of your work in the 'regulated sector', then you should report it to your firm's MLRO.
The problem of course with the technical answer is that you are likely to suspect the person who is your firm's MLRO, and so you would be reporting him to himself. That may not end well.
So, talk to the ICAEW helpline. They MIGHT say that you have an obligation to report this (personally and directly) to the NCA.
A difficult situation for you, through no fault of your own.
David

Thanks (4)
avatar
By Duhamel
30th Jul 2020 14:53

Perhaps resigning isn't an option in the current climate but I would definitely look for a new role, if I were you.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By WhichTyler
30th Jul 2020 16:35

Did they give you a furlough agreement?
If so don't reply to requests to work until they confirm that you are off furlough

Thanks (1)
avatar
By paul.benny
30th Jul 2020 17:40

Good answers, all.

OP - if you want to add anything or ask further questions, you can edit the original post while retaining your anonymity. Mark your changes EDIT so that we can see and respond as appropriate.

Thanks (2)
Replying to paul.benny:
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
30th Jul 2020 17:43

The advice from Paul is helpful, if you respond to a comment in this thread, it will display your actual user name.

While you could pretend not to be the OP, there might be a risk of giving yourself away. I'm sorry that our system operates in this way.

PS - Please DON'T delete your original post. The ID remains secure. If there is anything about the thread or the post that troubles you, please click the link on my name and private message me and I can help with any edits.

Good luck resolving your ethical dilemma.

Thanks (1)
RLI
By lionofludesch
30th Jul 2020 17:57

Was initially told "we cannot ask you to work, however, you can if you want to due to having nothing else to do or if you want to keep our clients happy, we will also top your pay up to 100%"

Jaysus.

That's wrong from the outset.

But - as said above, do you know they claimed furlough for the time you (or other folk) worked ?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Calculatorboy
30th Jul 2020 20:03

So easy to condemn chartered accountants, dont forget they will bear the repercussions and they have pi to protect clients as last resort

....compare that to the true cowboys who play tennis without the nets

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Mr_awol
30th Jul 2020 23:29

It seems like such along time ago now - but in the very early days, wasn’t it common belief that you couldn’t ‘require’ staff to work but they could ‘volunteer’ if they liked? Obviously that’s been cleared up since and we all know it isn’t the case.

That’s the only reason I ask if the OP is sure.

Then again, if the OP reports to HMRC (or ICAEW) andthefirm
Actually changed their mind and don’t claim the cash - then the firm have nothing to fear.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Mr_awol:
avatar
By Ben McLintock
31st Jul 2020 00:08

It does say after submitting each claim that you must tell the employees that you've made the claim.

Would there be any harm therefore in simply asking the partners? If they say 'none of your business', then the above could be pointed out.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Ben McLintock:
avatar
By Mr_awol
31st Jul 2020 14:12

Good point - I hadn't realised that the claim process included that instruction (our payroll department deal with all the processing so I haven't had to actually submit one).

Thanks (0)
avatar
By bernard michael
31st Jul 2020 09:23

Did you get/give a written agreement to Furlough, which you should have under HMRC regulations ??

Thanks (0)
avatar
By MC1
31st Jul 2020 10:05

I wonder if you might need to explain a change in your income to your mortgage broker next time around? If so, or if you think there is a remote chance of that, or if you can think of another reason why you might need to know for sure in the future, you might like to clarify exactly the position regarding furlough now with your employer.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By bernard michael
31st Jul 2020 11:37

The OP states "I am as sure as I can be they claimed furlough payments"
What if any evidence does he have to support this statement except gut feeling ??
If it turns out that have acted properly and only claimed appropriately - if at all -he will be in deep do-dahs
The firm will sue the socks off him

Thanks (0)
avatar
By [email protected]
31st Jul 2020 11:59

I'm a company director. A firm of Chartered Accountants handles our small payroll. Each employee on furlough receives their normal salary slip, but with furlough pay and top-up pay itemised separately. This is transparent. Surely this should be the case everywhere?

Thanks (4)
Replying to [email protected]:
RLI
By lionofludesch
31st Jul 2020 12:07

Quote:

I'm a company director. A firm of Chartered Accountants handles our small payroll. Each employee on furlough receives their normal salary slip, but with furlough pay and top-up pay itemised separately. This is transparent. Surely this should be the case everywhere?

Yep - I do that.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Ian McTernan CTA
31st Jul 2020 12:04

Horrible position to be in.
There really is only one option, and that is to report to the firm's Institute and HMRC. Be very careful exactly how you phrase your report. At the moment you have zero evidence of actual wrongdoing, only suspicions, and you should coach your report accordingly. HMRC can then decide what action to take in due course (and it might take them months or years).
Then look for another job, which might not be so easy at the moment....

Thanks (0)
Replying to Ian McTernan CTA:
avatar
By bernard michael
31st Jul 2020 12:17

Quote:

Horrible position to be in.
There really is only one option, and that is to report to the firm's Institute and HMRC. Be very careful exactly how you phrase your report. At the moment you have zero evidence of actual wrongdoing, only suspicions, and you should coach your report accordingly. HMRC can then decide what action to take in due course (and it might take them months or years).
Then look for another job, which might not be so easy at the moment....

Does the OP's report go

"I've no evidence but I think they might be claiming furlough payments and making the staff work " How much attention is that going to get - not a lot !!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Dib
31st Jul 2020 13:16

Following David Winch's comment and the OP's edit to state a report has been sent to the institute and HMRC, does (s)he need to ask the institute's help line whether a report needs to be made direct to the NCA?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Yoshik
01st Aug 2020 08:27

There is much sound advice here but I see that again the aloofness of mebers of the ICAEW is present.
I will stand up for many who are unqualified but have years of experience and do an excellent job, indeed I have seen better than members of ICAEW. Those who are e.g. members of AAT are very bright and in a number of cases are on the way to say ACCA. They carry full PI and should not be dismissively written off.
I am aware of a number of CPA's. Is the suggestion that their qualification is of no value?
Although I am qualified over more than 25 years I will not agree to the comments made, particularly by Vallery Lee. The comment is ugly at best and defamatory at worst.
Let's all remember that many years ago many who wanted to be chartered could not as paying for articles was a cost too far. That does not mean they have no intellect, integrity or a skill set that makes them good accountants.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Yoshik:
By SteveHa
03rd Aug 2020 06:44

I suspect you are referring to Lone Wolf's comments, in which case, am I the only one who could "hear" the sarcasm?

Thanks (1)
Replying to SteveHa:
avatar
By paulwakefield1
03rd Aug 2020 09:50

To give you comfort, you were not the only one. :-)

Thanks (0)
Red Leader
By Red Leader
03rd Aug 2020 16:52

I am not going to stoop to comment on this thread.

Red Leader, FCA.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Ben Alligin
03rd Aug 2020 22:49

The suggestion to 'Talk to the ICAEW ethics helpline' is not in my opinion a sensible answer.
Whilst waiting on hold to this august body, you are repeatedly told that you cannot rely on the advice provided by any advisor, and that any decision you take is entirely your own responsibility. Further, when you eventually speak to an advisor in the Ethics department, they display an ability to balance on the proverbial picket fence that would make any politician green with envy.

They are worse than useless.

However in the interests of balance, they do of course advise you that if you make the wrong decision (no clues provided as to what they consider might be the wrong answer), then you could potentially open yourself up to a claim of professional misconduct, which the same Institute will take a very dim view of. Finally, without any hint of irony, they advise that you cannot rely on the telephone conversation you are currently having as any form of defence in your ultimate decision!!

God bless 'em they are worth every penny.

PS Save yourself the effort, find a direct access barrister and pay for some proper legal advice, you'll be pleasantly surprised how cheap proper legal advice is.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Ben Alligin:
My photo
By Matrix
04th Aug 2020 09:31

The problem with calling the ethics helpline is that you have to identify yourself with your membership number.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Matrix:
7om
By Tom 7000
14th Aug 2020 12:22

No you dont

Thanks (0)
Replying to Ben Alligin:
avatar
By Paul Crowley
04th Aug 2020 10:31

Same issue with the supposed ethics assistance.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Ben Alligin:
Slim
By Slim
04th Aug 2020 14:38

Good old ICAEW, they will beat you over the head however they can.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Andy Reeves
14th Aug 2020 11:53

If your practice maintains the payroll for clients, then what advice have they been giving them on this issue?

Thanks (0)
7om
By Tom 7000
14th Aug 2020 12:22

I think this is fake news....surely no CA is that stupid

Thanks (0)
Share this content