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Man used four identities in wage subsidy fraud

16 May 2024.

A Christchurch man who applied for almost $40,000 in Covid-19 Wage Scheme subsidies using four different identities has been sentenced to six months community detention and reparations.

Wesson Smith Kennedy, 40, was sentenced in the Christchurch District Court on 7 May 2024 after admitting four charges of using a document, and one representative charge of using a document.

Kennedy illegally obtained $17,574 and tried to claim another $22,288.80 with applications which were declined.

Between May 2020 and November 2021 he made a total of 12 applications under four separate names - his previous legal name Rene Jayet and his current name Wesson Kennedy, along with two associates.

MSD used information shared by Inland Revenue and other evidence to determine Kennedy was not entitled to the payments and applications.

He was not legitimately self-employed or running a business and neither were the other two people whose names he used.

In sentencing Judge Katie Elkin acknowledged Kennedy’s early guilty plea, remorse and efforts to pay reparation already.

His six months’ community detention included a curfew of 8pm to 7am, and was ordered to repay the full amount of $17,574.

Each charge 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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