Sussex NJ man admits illegally obtained COVID relief loan

A Newton man admitted to illegally getting a $5.6 million COVID relief loan meant for businesses struggling during the pandemic.

Azhar Sarwar Rana, 30, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering in federal court on Thursday, said a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He was arrested on Dec. 12, 2020, as he left his home and was going to board a same-day flight to Pakistan.

Rana received money from the federal Paycheck Protection Program after he falsified payroll and tax information for his alleged real estate development business, Azhar Sarwar Rana LLC.

In his loan application, Rana said he had 11 employees, not including family or himself. He initially said his monthly payroll was $722,352 but later amended it to say it was closer to $1.4 million, requesting a $10 million loan, according to the complaint.