- Michael Bingham spent thousands of pounds from the Bounce Back Loan Scheme designed to support businesses through the pandemic on a family holiday, a puppy, Christmas shopping, and gambling
- He also transferred more than £20,000 to his father-in-law to start a drive-laying business
- Bingham secured the loans by inventing turnover figures and making up the name of a company just one day before submitting an application
A plumber from Devon who used a Bounce Back Loan on a family holiday, a puppy and gambling has been handed a suspended sentence.
Michael Bingham, 43, of Lancaster Gardens, Plymouth, was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years, when he appeared at Plymouth Crown Court on Thursday 25 January.
He was also sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid work to be completed in the next 12 months.
Julie Barnes, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:
Michael Bingham showed a complete disregard for a scheme to help businesses survive in the pandemic on not just one, but two separate occasions.
He spent taxpayers’ money on his own personal living expenses, using the loans for a family holiday, gambling, and even to buy a puppy.
Bingham provided a totally fictitious turnover for his business, invented another, and never had any intention of paying the money back.
Bingham first applied for a £10,000 loan in June 2020, claiming his PCB Plumbing business had a turnover of £40,000.
In subsequent interviews, he admitted to Insolvency Service investigators that he invented this figure.
Bingham ignored the rules of the scheme which stated the loans had to be used for the economic benefit of the business by transferring the money to his personal account.
Just one month later, Bingham successfully applied for a £50,000 loan, inventing the company name M and B Gas Installations the day before his application.
M and B Gas Installations never traded or was registered with Companies House.
Bingham transferred £22,000 to his father-in-law with a view to starting a drive-laying business which ultimately turned out to be short-lived.
He spent the remainder of the money on a camping holiday with his family, Christmas presents, a puppy, and gambling.