Thursday, April 25, 2024

Home detention for covid wage fraudster

A Katikati woman has been sentenced to seven months’ home detention after admitting five charges of dishonest use of a document in connection with the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

Emma Martinson, 34, was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court last week. Alongside the sentence of home detention, Judge Louis Bidois ordered her to pay $14,059.20 reparation. Martinson paid $2,000 towards this prior to her sentencing.

The prosecution by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is part of a substantial continuing work programme aimed at providing assurance that those who received wage subsidy payments were entitled to them. More than 38 people have been brought before the courts for wage subsidy misuse to date.

Between 9 April 2020 and 8 April 2022, Martinson dishonestly submitted 12 applications to MSD for wage subsidy and Leave Support Scheme payments. At no time during this period was she eligible to receive support.

Three applications were successful, paying a total of $14,059.20. After receiving the funds, Martinson made several large cash withdrawals from various ATMs over the following days.

The total amount of wage subsidy funds Martinson unsuccessfully applied for was $41,662.80, the Ministry said in a statement.

“Eight of the wage subsidy applications were sole trader applications, with seven of these submitted in Martinson’s name, and one in the name of ‘Spicknspan’. At the time, Martinson was not working as a sole trader.”

“Two further wage subsidy applications were made in Martinson’s name, listing her as an employer when she was not. Martinson also submitted two applications in the names of two other people who had no knowledge of them.

“There is no record that any of the wage subsidy funds were ever used to pay any listed employees,” the Ministry said.

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