Four Indicted in Bank Fraud Scheme Involving Sale of Gas Stations

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CHICAGO
Four individuals of South Asian descent, at least three of them of Indian origin, were indicted for allegedly fraduelently obtaining more than $10 million in loans from a bank through sales of 26 gas stations in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

Two defendants, Charnpal Ghuman and Aga Khan, co-owned the gas stations and sold them to purchasers financed by the bank loans and guaranteed in part by the Small Business Administration.

They allegedly recruited purchasers and arranged the loans through a bank loan officer, Akash Brahmbhatt, based on false financial representations, including false tax returns prepared by Shital Mehta, an accountant, both of whom also were indicted.

A fifth defendant, Khan’s brother, Shabbir Khan, was charged separately with tax offenses arising from the bank fraud investigation.

A federal grand jury returned a 23-count indictment earlier this month. The indictment was unsealed October 30, after the arrest of Ghuman, 34, of North Barrington, Ill., charged with 19 counts of bank fraud, three counts of bank bribery, and one count of filing a false federal income tax return; and Khan, 33, of Schaumburg, Ill., charged with four counts of bank fraud. Both men pleaded not guilty at their arraignment Oct. 31, and remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing Nov. 4 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Martin in federal court.

Each count of bank fraud and bank bribery carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The tax count against Ghuman alone carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The tax charges against Shabbir Khan each carry a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

In addition to criminal penalties, including mandatory costs of prosecution, defendants convicted of tax offenses remain responsible for any taxes and interest due, as well as civil penalties of up to 75 percent of the tax owed. The indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $10 million from Ghuman and Khan, as well as $198,180 in proceeds from the sale of Ghuman’s 2005 Porsche Carrera GT Coupe, which was allegedly purchased with fraud proceeds.

Brahmbhatt, 39, formerly of Naperville, Ill.,, and currently living in Texas, and Mehta, 47, of Elk Grove Village, were each charged with one count of bank fraud. They were not arrested and will be arraigned on a date to be determined in U.S. District Court.

Between 2006 and 2009, the Ghuman and Khan allegedly recruited purchasers of their gas stations who did not qualify for SBA loans and arranged for loans to be made through false documentation.