Exec at Vancouver's BuildDirect charged with COVID relief fraud in U.S.
Mukund Mohan placed on leave of absence; none of the allegations involve Vancouver company, employer says
A Washington state based executive employed by a Vancouver tech company has been arrested and charged with fraud and money laundering.
Mukund Mohan is accused of seeking $5.5-million US through a COVID-relief program using fake company records. Mohan is the chief technology officer with Vancouver-based BuildDirect — a company that's not named or connected with his alleged crimes.
Mohan listed himself on LinkedIn and spoke at various tech conferences as director of strategy and CEO of Microsoft's startup accelerator program between 2011 and 2013, before taking the position with the Vancouver-based company.
Mohan's current employer says it learned of the allegations involving the federally-funded American Paycheck Protection Program in news reports.
"Mr. Mohan has been placed on a leave of absence from the company as we review this matter," said a spokesperson for BuildDirect in an email to CBC.
Mohan was arrested last Thursday in the U.S. and charged with one count each of wire fraud and money laundering. Documents filed with the U.S. Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle allege Mohan submitted fraudulent applications for $5.5-million in forgivable loans, on behalf of six different companies.
The $669-billion-dollar Paycheck Protection Program is a business loan body set up by the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide emergency payroll assistance for companies facing financial hardship, due to the pandemic.
Court documents say Mohan "submitted fake and altered documents, including fake federal tax filings and altered incorporation documents."
These filings allegedly listed employees, salaries and taxes paid, creating companies that only existed on paper, said prosecutors.
Some did not even have a business licence. In the court filings, Mohan is identified as CTO of BuildDirect, but none of the allegations involve the Vancouver-based company that sells flooring and home improvement projects.
The 14-page criminal U.S. District Court complaint says that Mohan transferred "at least $231,000 in fraudulently obtained loan proceeds to his personal brokerage account for his personal benefit."
The allegations revolve around Zigantic LLC and five other companies where Mohan is listed as founder, CEO or owner: Mahenjo Inc., Zuput Inc., GitGrow Inc., Vangal Inc., and Expect Success Inc.