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Jail term for $110k Wage Subsidy fraud

16 May 2024.

A man has been jailed after defrauding the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme of $109,644.

Richard Jody Rapana, 52, appeared for sentencing in the Christchurch District Court on 3 May, 2024, having earlier admitted charges of using a document with intent to obtain a pecuniary advantage.

Three applications by Rapana, of Christchurch, in April 2020 resulted in payments of $7029.60, $39,348 and $63,266.40 into two different bank accounts between 8 April and 20 April, 2020.

The first was a sole trader application, the second as an employer listing six employee names and the third as a different employer listing nine employee names. He transferred $97,900 of the money to another person’s account.

Between 29 April and 6 July, 2020 he made another seven applications totalling $108,671.20 which were unsuccessful.

Rapana was sentenced for burglary and other charges at the same time.

Judge Tom Gilbert sentenced Rapana to four years’ imprisonment on all charges.

MSD sought reparation of $109,644 but Judge Gilbert declined, saying there was little prospect of it being paid.

The wage subsidy charges carried a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.

Wage subsidy cases have seen 21 people sentenced, another 44 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.

*figures as at May 3

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