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Home detention for $36k Wage Subsidy fraud

11 June 2024.

A man who made 50 applications for COVID-19 Wage Subsidy payments has been sentenced to seven months’ home detention.

William Webber, 37, of Titahi Bay, admitted in Porirua District Court he received $36,345.60 in eight payments.

A total of 21 people have been sentenced in wage subsidy cases, another 47 people are still before the courts, and more than $825 million* has been repaid. For more information on MSD’s programme of work on wage subsidy fraud and integrity, please see here.

Webber’s admitted charges of dishonestly using a document for applications he made between April 2020 and November 2021.

He registered a company NZ Building & Recruitment Ltd in December 2020 to make some of the claims, and at different times he stated he was an employer and a sole trader.

He also used the names of 14 people, including family members and listed his own bank accounts each time.

The money he received was withdrawn as cash, spent on online gambling or transferred to his partner’s account.

Webber also made 42 unsuccessful applications.

MSD sought reparation for the money paid.

Judge Bruce Davidson said the offending would have earned Webber a sentence of 16 to 18 months.

However, he commuted this to home detention on the basis that imprisonment would be a retrograde step given the rehabilitative progress Webber had made in the past two years.

On each of the charges Judge Davidson sentenced Mr Webber to seven months’ home detention. 

At the sentencing hearing on June 5, Webber’s counsel argued he had limited ability to pay reparation. He was ordered to pay $5000 at $20 a week.

*figures as at May 3

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