LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas man is accused of taking government money during the coronavirus pandemic for a travel business that prosecutors said did not exist.
On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted Ribal Hajj-Hussein on charges of wire fraud and money laundering, records showed.
In the spring of 2020, Hajj-Hussein received nearly $160,000 from the Small Business Administration for a “non-operational” travel business, documents said.
“In order to obtain an [Economic Injury Disaster Loan], a qualifying business was required to submit an application to the SBA and provide information about its operations, such as the number of employees and gross revenue for the 12-month period preceding January 31, 2020,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.
The money was meant to cover payroll, sick leave, and other business-related payments during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic.
In all, Hajj-Hussein received the money for the company that “was not a business operation,” prosecutors said. The money instead went into two bank accounts, documents said.
Records show the travel company was registered with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office in 2019, but the license was revoked.
A person with the same name filed a petition in court in July to legally change their name.
The SBA loans, which were required to be repaid, were “low-interest, fixed-rate, long-term loans to help overcome the effects of the pandemic by providing working capital to meet operating expenses,” the department’s website said.