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Over 400 businesses being investigated following Covid-19 wage subsidy complaints

Over 400 New Zealand businesses are being investigated after complaints were made about them receiving the Government's Covid-19 wage subsidy.

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While some have handed the money back, many others have failed to do so and the Government is warning it will come after those who rip the taxpayer off. Source: 1 NEWS

More than 2500 allegations were made against companies for falsely claiming the wage subsidy. Of those, 450 are being investigated.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has said criminal proceedings can be undertaken.

“We were very clear of that when people signed up for the wage subsidy.”

Geoff Nightingale of PWC says there's a lot of auditing going on.

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“When I last checked there had been 3000 audits, many of those are just phone check-ins," Mr Nightingale said.

"But there's about 100 people at MSD working on auditing the wage subsidy and I think it's important for the integrity for the scheme."

Twelve billion dollars has been paid out in wage subsidies so far. Of that, $200 million has been repaid, an increase of $28 million on the previous week.

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Businessman took wage subsidy despite believing company would survive without - won't pay it back

In order to be eligible for the first round of the subsidy, businesses had to show they were down 30 per cent on the year before, and 40 per cent for the second round.

One Kiwi business that is giving the money back is GDF shipping.

CEO Gavin Nell was desperate to keep his 11 staff in work so he applied for the wage subsidy in April.

“It was awesome, because what we thought would happen at the end of March to our business, actually the opposite has happened, we thought we might have to basically retrench people, but it's been the other way round.”