A San Fernando Valley, California, man has been indicted for committing Payment Protection Program fraud amounting to $1.7 million, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Authorities are pressing criminal charges against Arman Manukyan, 49, for allegedly receiving more than $860,000 in a PPP loan and submitting two PPP loan applications to Bank of America worth $1.7 million on behalf of two shell companies registered in his name.
DOJ believes Manukyan fled the country, boarding a flight from Mexico City to Paris with a final destination in Belarus.
Allegedly False tax documents apparently displayed allegedly false employee wages and company taxes, and the underwriting packet allegedly did not list any employees. The Small Business Administration approved an $860,000 loan for one of the shell companies.
Manukyan submitted a second PPP application for $884,748 in June, which the SBA rejected due to a missed deadline or lack of funds, an affidavit shows, according to the DOJ.
When an investigator contacted Manukyan after noticing suspicious activity with his account, Manukyan allegedly said he was going to use the approved loan to open a new limousine business — a story that did not match his application.
Authorities seized Manukyan’s accounts in July and searched his home on July 22, which resulted in the discovery of 22 debit cards used for unemployment benefits that were registered under the names of different people, the DOJ reported citing the affidavit.
Manukyan reportedly said he did not use the debit cards.
Congress approved the authorization of $349 billion worth of forgivable loans in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act in March to help small businesses retain employees during the pandemic when U.S. unemployment reached a record high.
Lawmakers approved an additional $300 million in PPP funding in April after cash ran out quickly for the first round of aid. The government has come under fire for not vetting businesses that applied for loans well enough.