Liberian pleads guilty to US $ 23 million in Covid-19 rescue fraud in America

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Monrovia – A Liberian national residing in the United States has pleaded guilty to fraudulent acts amounting to bribery in dealing with a $ 23 million fund for a COVID-19 loan program for businesses in the United States.

Steven Jalloul, a 43-year-old North Texas tax advisor, has been accused of orchestrating the fraudulent act to obtain more than $ 23 million in repayable loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (P3P).

He was first indicted following a criminal complaint against him in September 2020 and was charged later that month. He pleaded guilty to federal financial crime on Tuesday, October 19.

Jalloul admitted to replacing information accusing him of one count of participating in monetary transactions using property derived from illegal activities.

“The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help hard-working businessmen keep their businesses afloat during the pandemic – not to line the pockets of unscrupulous accountants,” the Acting US Attorney said Chad Meacham in a statement.

“The Justice Department will prosecute anyone who tries to exploit the financial programs of the pandemic era. There are countless companies ravaged by COVID-19 that deserved this money; Mr. Jalloul did not.”

According to advocacy documents, Jalloul admitted to defrauding lenders who participated in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The US $ 350 billion program was authorized by the US Congress at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide forgivable loans to small businesses affected by the outbreak.

Court documents have revealed that Jalloul also admitted to submitting approximately “170 falsified PPP loan applications to lenders seeking more than $ 23 million on behalf of more than 160 clients of his tax preparation company, Royalty Tax & Financial Services LLC “.

Jalloul further confessed to inflating employee rosters and clients’ monthly salary expenses in order to increase the amount of PPP funds their businesses would be eligible for, a statement from the US attorney’s office revealed.

He typically charged clients a commission of 2-20% on the PPP loans they received and even registered his ex-wife as an authorized representative of Royalty Tax, without her consent, when he applied for an inflated PPP loan for his own company.

The documents revealed that a total of 97 bogus PPP loan applications were ultimately approved, and Jalloul’s clients received more than $ 12 million in PPP.

He pointed out that these clients paid him at least $ 972,114 in fees.

Although his sentencing date has not been set, Jalloul is expected to face up to 10 years in federal prison for PPP fraud.

He is currently incarcerated at FCI-Seagoville.

Jalloul’s neighbors in Garland are remembered for his flamboyant and opulent lifestyle. He drove fancy cars and wore expensive clothes.

Like Corkrum, like Jalloul

Jalloul’s latest admission comes just months after another Liberian, Madame Ellen Corkrum, former head of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA), pleaded guilty to defrauding the US government of millions of dollars by using the Paycheck Protection Program.

The US Department of Justice said that Ellen Corkrum, who legally changed her name to Hunter VanPelt in July 2016, submitted multiple PPP loan applications under both names.

The six entities it owned or controlled that applied for the loan are: Georgia Nephrology Physician Associated, United Healthcare Group & Co., Nephrology Network Group LLC, First Corporate International, Corkrum Consolidated Inc. and Kiwi International Inc.

Acting US Attorney Erskine revealed at the time that VanPelt (Ellen Corkrum) submitted six bogus and fraudulent PPP loans between April 27, 2020 and June 17, 2020. The amounts requested in the six loans were 7,943. $ 591.50, of which $ 6,017,066.50 has been disbursed.

In each of the PPP loan applications, authorities said it falsely represented the average monthly payroll and the number of employees working for the affected company.

Ms. Corkrum or VanPelt is also accused of submitting forged documents including IRS records, bank statements and payroll reports related to these applications.

“The Paycheque Protection Program is critical to the survival of many small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of the FBI Atlanta. “It is particularly troubling that anyone trying to capitalize on a federal program at the expense of these companies. The FBI will persist in its efforts to stop such fraud.”

Mrs Corkrum or VanPelt is expected to be sentenced on January 4, 2020. She is expected to spend up to 30 years in prison.


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