Mukund Mohan who studied computer science at Mysore University and rose to be the director of engineering at Microsoft in the US before turning an entrepreneur was arrested and charged on Thursday by the US Attorney’s office with fraudulently applying for more than $5.5 million in coronavirus relief funds.
Mohan is said to have applied for eight loans to six of his companies under the US Paycheck Protection Programme (PPP) that gives loans to businesses to retain workers during the pandemic. If the money is used for specified purposes, it may even be converted into a grant.
The complaint alleges that Mohan did not employ a single person in those companies, and some did not even have a business.
Mohan became a popular face in Bengaluru’s startup ecosystem when he moved here from the US in 2008, first to start a venture of his own and then to lead Microsoft’s startup accelerator program that had just been founded. He returned to the US with a new role in Microsoft in 2014.
He left Microsoft in 2015. His LinkedIn profile says he was director of product management in Amazon between 2016 and 2018, and subsequently lists a number of startups that he’s part of. He also describes himself currently as the CTO of BuildDirect, a North American online home improvement company.
The US Attorney’s complaint states with reference to one of the loan applications that “Mohan submitted fake and altered documents, including fake federal tax filings and altered incorporation documents.”
Mohan is alleged to have transferred the money he received to his personal brokerage account with financial services company Robinhood.
One of the companies he applied for a loan was called Mahenjo. The complaint alleges that Mohan made numerous false and misleading statements about it, including that on February 15, 2020, the company was in operation and had employees for whom it paid salaries and payroll taxes or paid independent contractors; that in 2019, its payroll expenses were more than $2.3 million; and that Mahenjo’s average monthly payroll expenses were at least $172,250.
In reality, Mohan acquired ownership of the company in May, and it had no employees, according to the US Attorney in Washington.
The complaint says Mahenjo was actually a “shelf company”, one that did not have business activities or employees. On his LinkedIn profile, Mohan describes Mahenjo as the world’s largest hard surface flooring catalog and product information database.
The other companies on behalf of which Mohan sought to raise loans are Zuput, Zigantic, GitGrow, Vangal, and Expect Success.
Robinhood Markets Inc. provided records showing an account belonging to Mohan transferred about $231,000 of the federal money to the stock-trading app, prosecutors said.
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