BEVERLY HILLS—San Fernando Valley resident, Arman Manukyan, 49, has fled the United States after facing federal criminal charges for allegedly obtaining more than $860,000 in fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Manukyan faces charges of one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Manukyan, the defendant submitted two applications for PPP loans to Bank of America for $1.7 million on behalf of two shell companies registered in his name for Argo Global, Inc. and Express Wiring. Manukyan allegedly claimed Argo Global was a sewing business with 73 employees and submitted false tax documents on its behalf to show wages and taxes for the company to Bank of America and the Small Business Administration.

Proof sent did not include the list of employees or associates for Argo Global that listed a virtual office address in Beverly Hills as its place of business. A loan amount of $867,187 was approved for Argo Global, Inc. that was later transferred to the defendants personal bank accounts.

When bank investigators contacted Manukyan after one of his accounts had been frozen because of suspicious activity, the dependent allegedly told the bank he was going to use the PPP loan to start a limousine business. In June, Manukyan also submitted a loan application to Bank of America for $884,748 for a business called Express Wiring using a Glendale address. The Small Business Administration rejected the application indicating it either had been submitted after the June 22 deadline for PPP loans or the allocated PPP funds had run out.

In July, a seizure warrant was executed on Manukyan’s bank accounts that recovered $866,019. A search warrant executed by special agents and law enforcement partners at Manukyan’s home on July 22, 2020 revealed multiple debit cards used for unemployment benefits from the California Employment Development Department (EDD) that were in the names of different people. Manukyan allegedly told law enforcement that he found two of the EDD cards on the street and decided to keep them, but insisted that he never used them. Investigators recovered another $118,474 from debit cards linked to Manukyan.

On August 9, partner investigators received information that Manukyan boarded a flight from Mexico City inbound to Paris with a final destination of Minsk, Belarus. If convicted of both charges, Manukyan will face a statutory maximum sentence of 32 years in federal prison.

This case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s Major Frauds Section.