A MAN has been arrested for suspected £495,000 fraud of the Government's coronavirus furlough scheme.

The 57-year-old's home was raided yesterday by tax investigators from HMRC, who suspected him of exploiting the job retention scheme for almost half a million pounds.

Computers and electronics were seized and than man's funds in his business bank account were frozen.

It is the first arrest made in the country in relation to the job-retention scheme.

Richard Las, Acting Director, Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is part of the collective national effort to protect jobs. The vast majority of employers will have used the CJRS responsibly, but we will not hesitate to act on reports of abuse of the scheme.

“This is taxpayer’s money and any claim that proves to be fraudulent limits our ability to support people and deprives public services of essential funding."

More than £27.4bn has been claimed through the Job Retention Scheme by 1.1m employers, covering 9.4m furloughed jobs.

The man, from Solihull in the West Midlands, was also arrested in relation to a suspected multi-million pound tax fraud and alleged money laundering offences.

Eight other men from the West Midlands were also arrested as part of the linked investigation.

More than 100 HMRC officers were deployed to 11 different locations as part of yesterday's raid, and seized computers and digital devices, business and personal records.

HMRC has urged employees who suspect their employers to be exploiting or misusing the scheme to contact them via https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/report-fraud-to-hmrc.