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The Serious Fraud Office has charged an Auckland man for allegedly submitting 42 false COVID-19 wage subsidy applications totalling $1.88 million.

Hun Min Im (33) is alleged to have received $600,000 of the $1.88 million he attempted to claim by using applications which contained false information.

The SFO has filed charges against the defendant under the Crimes Act including 13 charges of obtaining by deception and 29 charges of dishonest use of a document. He appeared in the Auckland District Court today where he entered pleas of not guilty to all charges. His next appearance is scheduled for 23 November.

This is the first wage subsidy fraud case brought by the SFO.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) referred multiple allegations of serious abuse of the subsidy to the SFO last year following its own extensive investigations. Ten other investigations by the SFO are on-going.

“We work hard to protect New Zealanders’ economic wellbeing. The theft of public money is a serious crime which diverts government funds away from where they’re most needed. This is particularly acute in times of crisis, such as during a global pandemic,” says SFO Director Karen Chang.

“We are pleased to apply our specialised expertise to advance this prosecution, building upon the extensive work undertaken by MSD.”