NJ man admits fraudulently obtaining $ 5.6 million COVID business loan

A New Jersey man will spend years in federal prison after admitting to setting up a bogus business to secure a $ 5.6 million government loan at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

Azhar Sarwar Rana, 30, of Newton, pleaded guilty on Thursday to bank fraud and money laundering, the New Jersey attorney’s office said in a statement.

Rana requested a $ 10 million paycheck protection program loan for his bogus company “Azhar Sarwar Rana LLC” when he submitted his request on April 6, 2020 using forged payroll reports and IRS tax documents, prosecutors said.

He ended up receiving $ 5,677,473 in May 2020 for what he claimed was a real estate development company, according to court documents. Rana then used the money for personal expenses such as a payment of $ 13,000 to a BMW dealership. He also traded millions of dollars in securities and sent money to accounts on behalf of his family members – in Pakistan and elsewhere – according to prosecution documents.

Authorities arrested Rana on December 12, hours before boarding a flight to Pakistan booked earlier today.

Rana is expected to be sentenced on November 3. The charge of bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years while the charge of money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.

PPP loans are part of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) law and are meant to be used for salary costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities.

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Jeff Goldman can be reached at [email protected].


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