A Texas man has been imprisoned for more than 11 years after admitting wire-fraud and money-laundering offences to obtain millions of dollars under a US government programme to help businesses survive the coronavirus crisis.
Dinesh Sah of Coppell Sah submitted 15 fraudulent applications, filed under the names of companies he purportedly owned or controlled, to eight different lenders seeking around $24.8m (€20.9m) in loans under the paycheck protection programme (PPP).
He claimed the businesses had numerous employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll expenses.
“In fact, no business had employees or paid wages consistent with the amounts claimed in the PPP applications,” the department of justice said.
Sah also fabricated government tax filings and bank statements for the purported businesses, and listed other people as the authorised representatives of some of the businesses without the authority to use their identifying information.
“Today’s sentence serves as a clear reminder that individuals who exploit Covid-relief programmes to enrich themselves will be held accountable under the law,” said assistant attorney general Kenneth Polite of the department’s criminal division.
Acting US attorney for Texas’s northern district, Prerak Shah, added: “Congress passed the paycheck protection programme to help struggling businesses stay afloat, not to fund faux entrepreneurs’ luxury lifestyles. Even as Covid-19 devastated companies around the nation, Mr Sah sapped millions of dollars from the relief fund that could have helped them.”
According to the justice department, he spent the €17m-plus he received in PPP loans to purchase several homes in Texas, pay off mortgages on others in California, and buy a fleet of luxury cars, including a Bentley convertible, Corvette Stingray and Porsche Macan. He also sent millions of dollars in PPP proceeds in international money transfers.
Sah agreed to forfeit eight homes, six luxury vehicles, other property, and the more than $9m in fraudulent proceeds the government has seized to date. In addition to the prison sentence, he was ordered to pay almost $17.3m in restitution.
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