Criminal

An Issaquah software engineer submitted false loan applications seeking more than $1.5 million designated for businesses financially harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to federal court documents.

Baoke Zhang, 35, was charged this week with one count each of wire fraud and bank fraud, according to a complaint filed in the Western District of Washington that was unsealed Friday. He was arrested Friday.

Zhang allegedly submitted several loan applications to lenders and financial institutions in April for funds guaranteed by the Small Business Association (SBA) though the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The program, under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides forgivable loans to small businesses to use for payroll and other expenses.

According to court documents, Zhang created fake information technology companies for his applications. On one, he wrote that his business employed more than 25 people and had a monthly payroll of $240,000. His applications said his business had been running for at least a year, but investigators found he had filed for business licenses for each company in April.

In early May, a representative for a lender sent a message to an email address associated with Zhang’s application asking about discrepancies in his documentation. The recipient replied that his circumstances had changed and that he wanted to withdraw his application. In a phone call with a representative for the second lender, a man who identified himself as Zhang said again that he didn’t need the loans anymore, according to the complaint.

Zhang never received funding, according to court documents.

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Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 509-526-8321.