Restaurant manager gets suspended jail sentence for Covid loan fraud

A Manchester restaurant manager who fraudulently obtained two Covid loans worth £100,000 and spent taxpayers’ money on jewellery has been handed a suspended sentence. 

Sehrish Yasmin was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, at Manchester Crown Court on Thursday 16 May. 

The 32-year-old was also ordered to pay costs and compensation totalling £5,000 within 28 days. 

Yasmin, of Cheadle, Greater Manchester, should have started repaying each loan one year after she received the funds in 2020, but only started to do so once Insolvency Service investigations began in December 2022. 

David Snasdell, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said: “Bounce Back Loans were introduced by the government to help small and medium-sized businesses survive during the Covid pandemic.

“Sehrish Yasmin exploited this taxpayer-backed scheme by applying for two loans when businesses were only entitled to one and compounded this by spending significant sums on jewellery.

“While we are of course pleased that Yasmin has finally acknowledged her wrongdoing and repaid the two loans in full, we are disappointed that this only happened following our extensive investigations into her fraudulent activities.”

Yasmin first applied for a £50,000 Bounce Back Loan on behalf of Manny Steak House, trading as Toro Steakhouse, on Wilmslow Road, in the Rusholme area of Manchester in May 2020. 

She then secured a second £50,000 loan for the same company just one month later. 

Businesses were entitled to a single loan under the rules of the scheme. 

Money from the loan could also only be used for the economic benefit of the business, not for personal purposes. 

However, Yasmin spent more than £12,000 in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. 

Yasmin, who is also a qualified nurse, committed a further offence when Manny Steak House was liquidated in May 2021 by not delivering books and records to the liquidator when requested. 

The steak house with the same name and in the same location is now run by someone unrelated to Yasmin.

The court heard that Yasmin had recently completed paying the loan back, with the additional costs covering the interest on the loans and the Insolvency Service’s detailed investigations into her conduct. She was sentenced for fraud by false representation contrary to section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006 and misconduct in the course of winding-up contrary to section 208 of the Insolvency Act 1986.