Indian national charged in US with USD 8 million COVID-19 relief fraud scheme

New York: An Indian national in the US has been charged with a USD 8 million COVID-19 relief fraud scheme and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted, according to court documents.

Abhishek Krishnan, 40, was a resident of North Carolina before he returned to his home country of India. A federal grand jury in Newark, New Jersey, returned an indictment charging him with fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Krishnan is charged with two counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each of the top counts and a mandatory minimum of two years in prison on each count of aggravated identity theft if convicted.

According to court documents, after returning to India, Krishnan allegedly submitted numerous fraudulent PPP loan applications to federally insured banks, including on behalf of purported companies that were not registered business entities.

The fraudulent loan applications allegedly included false statements about the companies’ employees and payroll expenses, as well as falsified tax filings.

As part of the fraud scheme, Krishnan allegedly used the name of another person without that person’s authority. He allegedly submitted at least 17 loan applications seeking over USD 8.2 million and received more than USD 3.3 million in loan proceeds.

Once he got the funds, Krishnan allegedly laundered the proceeds of the fraud.

In a separate case, Krishnan was recently charged in the Eastern District of North Carolina with theft of government property and aggravated identity theft regarding his alleged receipt of unemployment insurance benefits funded by the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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