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A Magic Johnson Affiliate Funded a Small-Business Lender. That Lender’s CEO Now Faces Fraud Charges.

A Magic Johnson Affiliate Funded a Small-Business Lender. That Lender’s CEO Now Faces Fraud Charges.

Federal prosecutors filed fraud prices from the chief of a money business that received funding from a business affiliated with basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson to issue loans through the government’s Paycheck Security Application.

The federal govt alleges that

Rafael Martinez,

main govt officer of MBE Capital Partners, made use of fraudulent money statements to attain acceptance from the Small Organization Administration to difficulty financial loans to little businesses by way of the Paycheck Protection Program. Beneath the method, government-approved loan providers supplied Covid-19 help to compact corporations in the kind of forgivable loans backed by the SBA.

The fees were filed last week in a federal district courtroom in New York. In its complaint, the Justice Section alleged that Mr. Martinez utilised the expenses his corporation collected for processing the pandemic financial loans to purchase a villa in the Dominican Republic and a number of luxury autos, together with a 2018


911 Turbo and a 2017 Ferrari 488 Spider.

Attorneys representing Mr. Martinez contest the expenses.

Mr. Martinez “did particularly what he was intended to do as a PPP financial institution. He labored enormously tough to get authorities guidance into underserved communities wherever it was wanted most,” reported a assertion from

Telemachus Kasulis,

an attorney at the legislation organization Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello in New York, and other attorneys representing Mr. Martinez.

Mr. Martinez declined to comment when arrived at by using email. Reps of MBE Cash couldn’t be achieved for remark.

MBE Cash in 2020 gained $100 million in cash from EquiTrust Daily life Insurance policy Co., which is vast majority owned by Magic Johnson Enterprises, to bolster the lender’s endeavours to difficulty PPP loans specific at small businesses owned by women of all ages and minorities. The government’s complaint didn’t point out EquiTrust or Mr. Johnson by name, nor allege the firm or the former Los Angeles Lakers star engaged in any wrongdoing.

Mr. Johnson is the chairman and chief executive officer of Magic Johnson Enterprises, which helps make investments in firms throughout numerous industries, in accordance to the company’s web-site.

EquiTrust CEO

Eric Holoman

said in a assertion offered by way of a agent that the allegations towards Mr. Martinez “have no monetary effects on EquiTrust nor its policyholders.”

“We are dissatisfied and stunned if genuine as these steps are relating to and inconsistent with our values,” he reported.

A 2009 photograph of Magic Johnson Enterprises in Los Angeles.


Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Pictures

The EquiTrust representative reported Mr. Johnson was unavailable to comment. Magic Johnson Enterprises did not respond to requests for comment and to make Mr. Johnson obtainable.

The funding EquiTrust presented to Mr. Martinez’s company was the issue of a Might 2020 posting in The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Martinez reported then that the funding would assistance MBE Capital’s capability to offer PPP loans. In an interview for that posting, Mr. Johnson said he wished EquiTrust to give the funding to MBE Money since quite a few little, minority-owned companies had claimed troubles accessing the PPP to begin with.

“What we’re launching right here now is so crucial because we’re going to help save a large amount of little, minority corporations for the reason that they just can’t just wander into the financial institution and get that personal loan,” Mr. Johnson explained at the time.

According to the Justice Department, Mr. Martinez allegedly utilised fraudulent fiscal statements to look for a funding line with a lifestyle-insurance policies firm, which then furnished MBE Capital with $100 million to fund PPP loans. The Justice Department in its complaint also alleges that Mr. Martinez was then capable to use the loans as collateral to borrow supplemental capital by a Federal Reserve facility that furnished lenders liquidity to support them make PPP loans.


How should people who dedicated fraud in relationship with PPP loans and modest-business pandemic help be held accountable? Be part of the conversation under.

The section didn’t title the lifetime insurance coverage corporation in the grievance against Mr. Martinez. The funding amount was the exact same as the total EquiTrust officials claimed, in May perhaps 2020, was supplied to MBE Funds.

The PPP’s structure relied on banks and other loan companies to make the financial loans, which acquired a government promise. The federal government paid PPP creditors expenses for facilitating the loans. At its near very last Might, the PPP had authorized roughly 11.8 million loans worth about $800 billion, according to SBA facts.

Mr. Martinez, through MBE Cash, issued close to $823 million in PPP loans to roughly 36,600 firms and acquired about $71 million in expenses, the Justice Section said.

The SBA declined to remark on or give extra specifics about the loans MBE issued. An company spokesman claimed SBA is working on the audio administration of pandemic-aid plans and “to determine and deal with any and all areas of worry, and any opportunity fraud we discover by means of these checks is referred to the Inspector Typical.”

The Justice Section also alleges that Mr. Martinez in April 2020 used fraudulent and doctored tax data to use for a approximately $284,000 PPP financial loan that MBE Capital been given.

Mr. Martinez faces expenses which include a person depend of financial institution fraud, two counts of wire fraud and one depend of creating phony statements to a bank, the Justice Office mentioned. Just about every of individuals fees carries a greatest of 30 many years in jail upon conviction, according to the company.

“These expenses are untrue and Mr. Martinez appears forward to becoming vindicated in court,” the attorneys for Mr. Martinez said.

The situation against Mr. Martinez is an case in point of the federal government’s initiatives to pursue those who are alleged to have abused pandemic systems, such as compact business enterprise, unemployment insurance policies and health care plans. President Biden for the duration of past Tuesday’s Point out of the Union tackle stated the Justice Section would before long name a chief prosecutor for pandemic fraud.

President Biden explained in the Condition of the Union handle past week that a to-be-named main prosecutor would go just after individuals alleged to have abused pandemic packages.


Julia Nikhinson – Pool by way of CNP/Zuma Press

“We’re going just after the criminals who stole billions of relief funds meant for little business enterprise and millions of Americans,” Mr. Biden claimed. The Justice Department has previously brought hundreds of conditions connected to pandemic fraud.

Quite a few Republican senators last Wednesday sent a letter to Mr. Biden asking his administration to give thorough accounting of how the federal authorities has invested Covid-19 relief funding appropriated so considerably.

Lawyer Standard

Merrick Garland

stated Thursday that the Justice Department’s main prosecutor for pandemic fraud will develop on the function of a task drive he stood up in Might 2021 to provide federal companies alongside one another to crack down on strategies linked to the pandemic.

Publish to Amara Omeokwe at [email protected]

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