Azhar Sarwar Rana, 30, of New Jersey, is charged by a complaint with one count of bank fraud and one count of money laundering. He was arrested on December 12, after he booked a same-day flight to Pakistan.
Rana made his initial appearance by videoconference on Monday before US Magistrate Judge James B Clark III and was detained without bail.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Rana submitted a fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application to a lender on behalf of a corporate entity, Azhar Sarwar Rana LLC, that purportedly invested in real estate development.
The application falsified payroll and tax information and included internally inconsistent listings of the number of company employees. New Jersey Department of Labor records showed that Azhar Sarwar Rana LLC paid no wages in 2019, and the minimal wages it purportedly paid in 2020 were mostly to individuals whose submitted social security numbers did not correspond to their submitted names.
Based on Rana’s alleged misrepresentations, the lender approved Rana’s PPP loan application and provided Azhar Sarwar Rana LLC with an approximately USD 5.6 million in federal COVID-19 emergency relief fund meant for distressed small businesses.
Rana used the fraudulently obtained PPP loan proceeds to pay for numerous personal expenses, including to invest millions in the stock market, make a payment to a luxury car dealership, and send hundreds of thousands of dollars to accounts in Pakistan.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020. It is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines