Indian man indicted in US for fraudulent loan application; swindling COVID-19 aid funds

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A 55-year-old Indian man has been indicted in the US for his alleged participation in a scheme to file fraudulent business protection loan applications and later swindling the money for his personal use, the Department of Justice has said.

Dinesh Sah from North Texas fraudulently sought around USD 24.8 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Sah allegedly submitted 15 fraudulent applications to approved lenders for PPP loans through multiple “purported” businesses, according to the indictment provided by the DOJ.

The indictment alleges that one of the businesses Relief Without Borders LLC was registered as a corporation in mid-May.

“The registered business address for Relief Without Borders LLC was Sah’s residence in Coppell, Texas,” the indictment states.

“Sah was listed as the company’s registered agent and managing member. Sah’s applications allegedly included claims that the businesses had many employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars of payroll expenses,” according to the DOJ report.

Sah received about USD 17.7 million in PPP loans and is alleged to have used the money to pay for personal expenses like multiple homes and luxury cars, according to the report. Sah also allegedly transferred millions of dollars internationally, the report states.

The money, part of the CARES Act, is designed to provide emergency financial relief to Americans suffering from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including small businesses.

The US Department of Justice announced that a federal grand jury had indicted Sah with three counts of wire fraud, three counts of bank fraud and one count of money laundering.

“Today’s indictment shows Sah’s disgraceful display of greed. Mr Sah looked at the Paycheck Protection Program as his own personal piggy bank, treating himself to not only millions in cash, but several luxury vehicles and properties, all while legitimate small business owners in the United States desperately sought out ways to put food on their tables and to ensure their employees were paid,” said IRS Special Agent Tamera Cantu.

There have been multiple instances of people attempting to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program, including a Florida man who used the money to buy a Lamborghini, a Detroit man who used it to buy several cars, and North Carolina man who received over USD 1.7M in benefits for companies named after characters from the TV show “Game of Thrones.”