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Arheel's Uncle 11-20-2020 06:40 AM

Feds looking into whether AzerbaijanI Cleveland-area family swindled millions from program\
Feds looking into whether Cleveland-area family swindled millions from program to help businesses during coronavirus

Updated Nov 19, 2020; Posted Nov 19, 2020

By Eric Heisig, cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Federal prosecutors are looking at whether a network of companies with names pertaining to farming that apparently do no agricultural work illegally obtained $7.2 million in government loans and grants from a program meant to help businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Dan Ball confirmed to cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer that a lawyer for Zaur Kalantarli and two of his brothers had reached out to prosecutors to talk about the matter.
An article published Wednesday by Bloomberg said dozens of recently-incorporated businesses connected to Kalantarli and his family members received money this year from the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, even though it appeared the companies did not do any business.
The companies are registered at three homes in the Cleveland area. Ball said the office will look investigate.
Edward La Rue, Kalantarli’s attorney, said Thursday that he is also investigating the matter and is looking at whether his client must repay any of the money or take any other steps.
Kalantarli is the owner of houses in Euclid, Cleveland Heights and Solon, Cuyahoga County land records show. A citizen of Azerbaijan, he previously lived in Los Angeles and operated an apparel business. La Rue said his client to the Cleveland area a few years ago to work in real estate and possibly start a vertical farming business.
Bloomberg reported that Kalantarli and his family members created 72 companies with agriculture-themed names that submitted loan and applications through the U.S. Small Business Administration $212-billion program, established to help companies in need of help because of the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The program is distinct from the Paycheck Protection Program.
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