An Indian American tech executive, entrepreneur and angel investor has been arrested for fraudulently claiming money he wasn’t entitled to from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was set up to allow small businesses to pay their staff during coronavirus.
Mukund Mohan, 48, of Clyde Hill, Washington, currently the chief technology officer at BuildDirect, has been accused of seeking over $5.5 million in loans and laundering the proceeds. Citing the complaint filed in the Western District of Washington court, a Department of Justice press release said Mohan submitted at least eight fraudulent PPP loan applications on behalf of six different companies to federally insured financial institutions.
The six companies are Zuput, GitGrow, Vangal, Expect Success. Mahenjo Inc and Zigantic LLC. Mohan served as the founder and/or CEO for Zuput, GitGrow, Vangal, and Expect Success, while his wife, Vinita Ananth, is the founder of Zigantic, and his teenager son is listed as its chief marketing officer.
The complaint alleges that, in support of the fraudulent loan applications, Mohan made numerous false and misleading statements about the companies’ respective business operations and payroll expenses. The complaint also alleges that, in further support of the fraudulent loan applications, Mohan submitted fake and altered documents, including fake federal tax filings and altered incorporation documents.
The press release further noted that Mohan actually bought Mahenjo off the internet in May, “when it had no employees or business activity, from a company that specialized in ‘aging’ shell corporations so they seemed legitimate.” Mohan transferred $231,000 of the loan into his personal brokerage account.
He has been charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.
The Delhi-based news site Inc42 reported that “Mohan had come under the radar in India for similar reasons.” According to the report, Mohan “had claimed to have founded over five companies, invested in 11 companies between 2008 and 2012 in his personal capacity and funding two companies through investment fund Napkin Stage.”
According to the report, Mohan “was one of the big names in the Indian startup ecosystem,” until a 2015 investigative report “scrutinized the claims made by him.”
Mohan’s LinkedIn profile reveals a career which encompasses numerous leadership roles at the world’s top technology companies including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Cisco Systems. He has worked as director at Amazon Business, responsible for automated quoting and analytics products, as well as director of engineering at Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Business.
Mohan is also a successful serial entrepreneur, founding three companies and selling two, creating over 4.7X returns for investors over five years, according to Inc42. He was the founder of BuzzGain, a social media monitoring SaaS product, acquired by Meltwater Inc. in 2011.
Mohan earned a Bachelor of Engineering from University of Mysore, India, a Master of Science from University of Maryland, and a Master of Business Administration from University of Berkeley.