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A California man who was revealed to be a Republican party donor stands accused of fraudulently claiming more than $5 million in coronavirus relief loans and using the cash to buy a fleet of fancy cars.
Mustafa Qadiri, a 38-year-old from Irvine, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday on four counts of bank fraud, four counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and six counts of money laundering, according to a press release by the US Attorney in the Central District of California on 7 May.
Federal prosecutors said Mr Qadiri applied for federal loans in May 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic was raging across the US. Authorities allege that Mr Qadiri secured more than $5 million in loans, and allegedly used the cash to buy a Ferrari, a Lamborghini and a Bentley. He also spent money on “lavish vacations”, according to prosecutors. All of these are banned under the Paycheck Protection Program under which the loans were secured.
Prosecutors allege that Mr Qadiri applied to three separate banks for COVID-19 relief funds to assist fake companies registered in California. They also say that fraudulent documents with false information were submitted alongside “altered bank account records”. Mr Qadiri is also accused of using a false name, Social Security number, and signature on application forms.
They also say they have seized some of Mr Qadiri’s property, such as a 2011 Ferrari 485 Italia and a 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S, both registered to All American Capital Holdings. The Ferrari can cost as much as $100,000.
The prosecutor's statement also said another luxury car was bought with PPP money, a 2020 Bentley Continental GT Coupe.
If Mr Qadiri is found guilty of all charges, he could face a 302-year prison sentence.
He is not the first person arrested and charged with fraud concerning pandemic loans. Neither is he the first person accused of buying a Lamborghini with funds intended to soften the blow of the coronavirus’ economic effects.
A man in Florida was arrested on fraud charges after $4 million in loans contributed to his purchase of a $300,000 Lamborghini in July, as The New York Times reported. Another man was arrested in Texas for bank fraud following his purchase of a $200,000 2019 Lamborghini Urus, according to prosecutors.
According to the Small Business Association, the Paycheck Protection Programme is designed to protect jobs as the pandemic has led to mass record unemployment.
Forbes reported that in April that 266,000 jobs were added to the US workforce but it was much less than expected and still leaves the amount of Americans out of work to be over 10 million people.