3 Oct 2023

Man jailed after admitting Covid-19 wage subsidy fraud

12:11 pm on 3 October 2023

Nationwide, more than 38 people have been charged with wage subsidy misuse to date. Photo:

A man has been jailed for more than two years for defrauding taxpayers through the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

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.

MSD said Uatesoni Filimoehala, who was bankrupt at the time, registered 42 Construction Limited with the Companies Office, shortly after the scheme was introduced.

Filimoehala went on to submit six fraudulent wage subsidy applications for 42 Construction, with the first being submitted only a few hours after the company was registered.

Of the six applications the 40-year-old made, three were successful and $126,532.80 was paid to him.

Filimoehala also unsuccessfully applied for a further $42,491.20.

Subsequent checks by MSD found none of the employees listed in the fraudulent applications worked for 42 Construction.

It said some were actually working elsewhere and receiving wage subsidies for that employment.

MSD said there was also no evidence to suggest 42 Construction was trading at the time the fraudulent applications were made.

Filimoehala admitted multiple charges of dishonesty and was sentenced by Judge Robyn von Keisenberg to 27 months' imprisonment.

Woman gets home detention and fine for defrauding scheme

A Bay of Plenty resident has been sentenced to seven months' home detention and $14,059.20 in repayments after defrauding the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

MSD said over two years starting in April 2020, Emma Martinson dishonestly submitted 12 applications to the scheme.

Two listed her as an employer when she was not, two were in the names of other people without their knowledge, and eight were sole trader applications when Martinson was not working as a sole trader.

At no time during this period was she eligible to receive support, and there was no record that any of the wage subsidy funds were ever used to pay employees, MSD said.

Instead, the ministry said after receiving the funds Martinson made several large cash withdrawals from various ATMs.

MSD said more than 38 people had now been brought before the courts for wage subsidy misuse.

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