By Spy Uganda Correspondent
California: American Government earlier this week arrested a Santa Clarita Valley Ugandan man for stealing its COVID-19 relief fund, presenting him to court today, the suspect pleaded guilty to perpetrating a scheme to fraudulently obtain approximately $1.8 million in COVID-19 relief guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
According to court documents, Hassan Kanyike, 29, of Santa Clarita, admitted that he submitted six fraudulent PPP loan applications and two fraudulent EIDL applications. The applications sought funds to purportedly pay the salaries of employees whom he claimed worked for two of his businesses. Kanyike successfully obtained approximately $1 million through four PPP loans, and another $300,000 through two EIDL loans.
In support of the fraudulent PPP loan applications, Kanyike submitted fake federal tax filings and payroll reports. For example, in one loan application, Kanyike falsely claimed the business had 26 employees and an average monthly payroll of $168,000, and he submitted a fabricated IRS tax form claiming Falcon Motors had paid $2,022,300 in payroll in 2019. But Kanyike admitted during his plea that the company had substantially fewer employees and substantially lower payroll. Kanyike also admitted that he obtained additional Employer Identification Numbers from the IRS in April and May 2020, so that he could apply for multiple loans for the same used-car business. Kanyike then used a substantial portion of the PPP loan proceeds for his own personal benefit.
Kanyike was arrested in December 2020 at Los Angeles International Airport just before he was about to board a flight to Dubai. At the time of his arrest, Kanyike had transferred approximately $762,000 to Uganda, his country of citizenship, from one of the business accounts that had received the loan proceeds, in violation of the terms of the PPP and EIDL program.
Kanyike pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on August 23. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. As part of his guilty plea, Kanyike is required to pay approximately $1.3 million in restitution.
The case is being prosecuted by the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s Criminal and Major Fraud Sections.
The PPP allows qualifying small businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1%. PPP loan proceeds must be used by businesses for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. The PPP allows the interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spend the proceeds on these expenses within a set time period and use at least a certain percentage of the loan towards payroll expenses.