Indian-American pleads guilty to Covid relief fraud

Washington, March 26 (IANS) A Texas-based Indian-American man has pleaded guilty to a $24.8 million Covid-19 relief fraud scheme, according to media reports.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Justice Department said that Dinesh Sah, 55, admitted that he submitted 15 fraudulent applications under the names of various purported businesses that he owned or controlled, to eight different lenders, the American Bazaar reported.
Sah claimed that these businesses had numerous employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll expenses when, in fact, no business had employees or paid wages consistent with the amounts claimed in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications.
Sah admitted that he submitted fraudulent documentation in support of his applications, including fabricated federal tax filings and bank statements for the purported businesses, according to court documents.
“The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to aid struggling business owners, not to line the pockets of crafty profiteers,” Acting US Attorney Prerak Shah of the Northern District of Texas said.
“Even as fellow businesspeople tried desperately to procure the funds they needed to keep their business afloat, Sah dipped into federal coffers to fund his lavish lifestyle.”
Sah admitted that, based on his false statements and fabricated documents, he received over $17 million in PPP loan funds and diverted the proceeds for his personal benefit.
As part of his guilty plea, Sah agreed to forfeit, among other property, eight homes, numerous luxury vehicles, and more than $7.2 million in fraudulent proceeds that the government has seized to date.
Sah pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in the Northern District of Texas.
He will be sentenced at a later date and faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

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