Two Tulsa County men have been named in a federal criminal complaint that alleges they both lied when applying for multiple Paycheck Protection Program loans from the Small Business Administration.
Ibanga Etuk of Tulsa and Olusola Ojo of Owasso made initial appearances last week before a Tulsa federal court magistrate, who approved bond for both.
According to an affidavit written in support of the criminal complaint, Etuk and Ojo applied for six SBA PPP loans between them totaling $1,152,000. The men told various banks from which they were seeking financial assistance that they did not own any other businesses when applying for each loan.
“The statements were false because Etuk and Ojo applied for multiple PPP loans each, using different companies in which they had ownership interests,” says the affidavit, written by an agent with the Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
In at least four cases, the pair listed an address in the 5500 block of South Peoria Avenue as the location for the businesses.
The complaint alleges Etuk applied for four loans: $300,000 for Blessed Outcomes Inc., $120,000 for Pinnacle Elite Group Inc., $162,000 for Lover Power Center and $120,000 for Aboveall Business Inc.
The complaint alleges Ojo applied for two loans: $300,000 for Quicksold Market LLC and $150,000 for The Inspired Group LLC. On each loan application, the complaint alleges the defendants answered “no” when asked if they were the owner of any other business or have common management with any other business.
In one case, according to the complaint, Ojo was with Etuk when the former went to a Norman bank to sign loan documents. Both claimed to be at the bank coincidentally and denied knowing each other.
The complaint indicates a bank funded at least one of the loans to Etuk.
The PPP is an SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The SBA will forgive the loans if employees are retained and the funds are used for eligible expenses.
“These funds were designed to be a lifeline to struggling businesses during the COVID-19 crisis,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will uphold the integrity of the Paycheck Protection Program and prosecute those who would violate the law by abusing the program for their own gain.”