PPP millions went to firm identified in Ukraine laundering suit
08 Jul 2020

A company accused of helping launder millions of dollars from Ukraine a decade ago is among the apparent recipients of U.S. virus relief funds, according to federal disclosures.

The company, Optima 777, received at least $2 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, according to virus-relief loan disclosures made public Monday. A company of the same name was part of an international scheme in which billions of dollars were siphoned from a Ukrainian bank by one of its owners, Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, according to a civil lawsuit filed last year in Delaware. The lender, Privatbank, was seized by Ukraine’s government in 2016 following allegations of widespread fraud.

It’s unclear who controls Optima 777 now. Kolomoisky, who has previously denied wrongdoing, didn’t provide a comment.

The new U.S. disclosures identified companies that received nearly 5 million loans under the federal government’s largest coronavirus relief program, the $669 billion PPP. Under the relief program, PPP loans can be forgiven if the recipient satisfies certain conditions, such as using most of the money to meet payroll.

Optima 777, which owns a stake in a Westin Hotel in Cleveland, received between $2 million and $5 million from the Small Business Administration funds to help retain 240 employees, according to the disclosure, which lists loan sizes in ranges rather than precise amounts.

By Greg Farrell, Bloomberg, 6 July 2020

Read more at Bloomberg

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