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N.J. man who got $5.6M COVID loan for phony company sentenced to prison

A New Jersey man who obtained a fraudulent COVID-19 loan worth millions from the federal government near the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic was on Tuesday sentenced to five years and four months in prison.

Azhar Sarwar Rana, 31, of Newton, will also have to pay back about $5.58 million and serve five years of supervised release after completing his stint in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey said in a statement.

Rana sought a $10 million Paycheck Protection Program loan for his phony company “Azhar Sarwar Rana LLC” when he submitted his application on April 6, 2020 using falsified payroll reports and IRS tax documents, prosecutors said.

Rana ended up receiving $5,677,473 in May 2020 for what he claimed was a real estate development company, court documents state. The minimal wages the sham company purportedly paid in 2020 were mostly to people whose submitted Social Security numbers that did not correspond to their submitted names, prosecutors said.

Rana then used the money for personal expenses such as a $13,000 payment to a BMW dealership. He also traded millions of dollars in securities and sent money to accounts in the names of family members — in Pakistan and elsewhere — according to charging documents.

Authorities arrested Rana on Dec. 12, 2020, hours before was scheduled to board a flight to Pakistan he booked earlier that day.

PPP loans are part of the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) and are supposed to be used to…

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