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Retail billionaire Solomon Lew has bowed to political pressure and will return some of the jobkeeper subsidy received by his Premier Investments empire.

In a statement, Premier said it’s board, where Lew is chair, had decided to “refund the net jobkeeper benefit of $15.6m to the Australian Tax Office”.

However, it did not disclose the total amount of jobkeeper the company received – as we’ve previously reported, industry sources estimate it could be as much as $100m.

The company said it had previously “quarantined” the $15.6m “to fund the wages of employees who may be stood down under future state government mandated Covid-19 lockdowns”.

It said it used the money to pay staff during the recent snap lockdowns in Queensland and Western Australia.

Critically, following the lockdowns and upon reopening, increased trading from the combined states has fully offset the cost of supporting our teams through these lockdowns …

Therefore, the ‘jobkeeper 1’ funds were ultimately not required to support our teams.

Lew’s empire has been under intense pressure to repay jobkeeper after its profit surged during the pandemic and it paid tens of millions of dollars in dividends to Lew – you can read our previous coverage here:


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