// An HMRC source says it is looking into alleged breaches of furlough scheme from Mike Ashley & Sir Philip Green
// Staff allege that they were asked to work while on furlough
// HMRC to be granted new powers to demand back funds from Covid-19 relief
Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley is said to be top of an HMRC “hit list” to investigate complaints made around alleged breaches of the government’s job retention scheme, according to reports by the i paper.
An HMRC source speaking to the paper said a number of household names, including Ashley, were being looked into, with Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia also receiving criticism for taking furlough funds.
“We’re already looking into whether we can claw back some Covid cash from them. If there’s any way we can, we will. So far it’s looking like there is a case for both to answer,” the HMRC source told i.
According to the reports, HMRC is considering a number of complaints made against Ashley’s Frasers Group, which includes House of Fraser, Sports Direct and Evans Cycles.
Staff allege that they were asked to work while on furlough, which if proven would breach the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme rules.
Retrospective tax legislation will give HMRC new powers to demand back the funds and Covid-19 support loans that it believes companies either misused or mistakenly applied for.
Responding to i’s story, HMRC refused to comment on any specific cases, but did confirm it had so far received 3,858 reports about employers abusing the furlough scheme.
“This is taxpayer’s money and fraudulent claims limit our ability to support people and deprive public services of essential funding,” an HMRC spokesperson said.