Seven businessmen from Texas have been indicted for filing more than 80 fraudulent applications for a loan from the state in the amount of about $ 16 million as part of the assistance program for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The US Department of Justice said the suspects were involved in a scheme to capitalize on the pandemic by filing at least 80 fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. As a result, businessmen have received about $ 16 million and spent it on luxury items such as cars Porsche and Lamborghini.
The following persons are accused of fraud: Amir Aqil, Pardeep Basra, Rifat Bajwa, Mayer Misak, Mauricio Navia, Richard Royt. In addition, Amir Aqil is accused of money laundering with Siddiq Azeemuddin.
Fraud in loan applications consisted of falsifying the number of employees and the average monthly payroll expenses of the applicant businesses.
Moreover, businessmen have submitted fraudulent bank records and fake federal tax forms.
Also, some of the PPP loan applications were submitted from companies owned by the defendants and other loan applications were allegedly on behalf of organizations owned by third parties. For this, the suspects paid them large kickbacks.
The indictment also alleges that the suspects laundered part of the proceeds of the fraud by writing salaries to fake employees. More than 1100 fake salary checks worth $ 3 million were then cashed at Fascare International Inc. dba Almeda Discount Store owned by Azeemuddin.
The investigation is ongoing.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was adopted under the CARES Act and allows small businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of one percent. In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional PPP funding.