Coronavirus

Hawaii defense contractor charged with $12.8m coronavirus relief fraud



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A high-profile Hawaii-based defense contractor has been arrested on charges of swindling $12.8 million in funds intended to prop up small businesses during COVID-19.

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Martin Kao, 47, a generous political donor, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with bank fraud and money laundering, accused of siphoning off $2 million of the fraudulent loan into his own personal bank account.

The Department of Justice accused Kao of falsifying loan applications so that he could receive more money than he was entitled to under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was created by Congress as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act meant to stave off financial ruin for individuals and small businesses during the pandemic.   

Kao submitted at least two fraudulent PPP loan applications, prosecutors allege.

They claim he falsely inflated the number of employees on the loan application, and falsely certified that the applicant and its affiliates would not receive, and had not received, another PPP loan.  

He was charged with two counts of bank fraud and five counts of money laundering. 

Kao will make his initial appearance in court in Honolulu on Thursday, before U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield. 



a man wearing a suit and tie: Martin Kao, CEO of Navatek - now Martin Defense Group - was arrested on Wednesday


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Martin Kao, CEO of Navatek – now Martin Defense Group – was arrested on Wednesday



David M. Dooley in a suit and tie: Kao (right) is the CEO of Navatek, which specializes in contracts for the Department of Defense and Nasa, among others


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Kao (right) is the CEO of Navatek, which specializes in contracts for the Department of Defense and Nasa, among others

Kao in 2017 was appointed CEO of Navatek, a defense company with contracts for the Defense Department and Nasa.

Five days before his arrest Kao announced that the company was being renamed Martin Defense Group, after him.

‘While I respect and value Navatek’s history, our re-branding as Martin Defense Group allows us to turn

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Hawaii defense contractor accused of $12.8M in fraud coronavirus PPP loans

A Hawaii defense contractor has been charged with bank fraud and money laundering for stealing more than $12.8 million in Paycheck Protection Program money meant to assist businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, federal authorities alleged Wednesday.

Martin Kao, CEO of Martin Defense Group LLC, formerly known as Navatek LLC, transferred more than $2 million into his own personal accounts, a criminal complaint said.

Kao also submitted at least two fraudulent loan applications, authorities said.

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“According to the charges, Kao falsely inflated the number of employees on the loan application and falsely certified that the applicant and its affiliates would not receive, and had not received, another PPP loan,” the U.S. attorney’s office in Hawaii said in a statement.

Congress authorized the Paycheck Protection Program, known as PPP, in March to provide emergency financial assistance to those suffering economic effects of the pandemic through forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and other expenses.

Investigators talked to an executive and a former employee who said the company wasn’t affected by the pandemic, according to the criminal complaint.

The executive learned details about Kao’s loan application in July when he read a news article about Navatek being one of the largest PPP recipients in Hawaii. The company hired employees and opened branch offices during the pandemic, the executive told investigators.

Authorities describe Navatek as a “research, engineering, design, and innovations company that specializes in novel systems for the Department of Defense and other partners in academia and other scientific fields.”

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Kao’s first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.

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Hawaii defense contractor charged with defrauding government out of $12.8m in coronavirus relief aid

A high-profile Hawaii-based defense contractor has been arrested on charges of swindling $12.8 million in funds intended to prop up small businesses during COVID-19.

Martin Kao, 47, a generous political donor, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with bank fraud and money laundering, accused of siphoning off $2 million of the fraudulent loan into his own personal bank account.

The Department of Justice accused Kao of falsifying loan applications so that he could receive more money than he was entitled to under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was created by Congress as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act meant to stave off financial ruin for individuals and small businesses during the pandemic.   

Kao submitted at least two fraudulent PPP loan applications, prosecutors allege.

They claim he falsely inflated the number of employees on the loan application, and falsely certified that the applicant and its affiliates would not receive, and had not received, another PPP loan.  

He was charged with two counts of bank fraud and five counts of money laundering. 

Kao will make his initial appearance in court in Honolulu on Thursday, before U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield. 

Martin Kao, CEO of Navatek - now Martin Defense Group - was arrested on Wednesday

Martin Kao, CEO of Navatek – now Martin Defense Group – was arrested on Wednesday

Kao (right) is the CEO of Navatek, which specializes in contracts for the Department of Defense and Nasa, among others

Kao (right) is the CEO of Navatek, which specializes in contracts for the Department of Defense and Nasa, among others

Kao in 2017 was appointed CEO of Navatek, a defense company with contracts for the Defense Department and Nasa.

Five days before his arrest Kao announced that the company was being renamed Martin Defense Group, after him.

‘While I respect and value Navatek’s history, our re-branding as Martin Defense Group allows us to turn toward the future, and the opportunities we see to make a positive difference,’ said Kao in the September 25

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Donald Trump announces coronavirus testing boost for schools, nursing homes

President Trump on Monday announced that his administration plans to distribute 150 million rapid coronavirus tests to schools, nursing homes and other facilities in the coming weeks.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: FILE – In this Sunday, June 14, 2020 file photo, President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up while walking across the tarmac as he boards Air Force One at Morristown Municipal Airport, in Morristown, N.J. Trump is returning to Washington. A far-right Norwegian lawmaker says he has nominated President Donald Trump for the Nobel Prize 2021 for his efforts to reach a peace agreement in the Middle East. Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a member of the Norwegian Parliament for the far-right Progress Party, said on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020 that Trump should be considered for his work “for reaching a peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel which opens up for possible peace in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)


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FILE – In this Sunday, June 14, 2020 file photo, President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up while walking across the tarmac as he boards Air Force One at Morristown Municipal Airport, in Morristown, N.J. Trump is returning to Washington. A far-right Norwegian lawmaker says he has nominated President Donald Trump for the Nobel Prize 2021 for his efforts to reach a peace agreement in the Middle East. Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a member of the Norwegian Parliament for the far-right Progress Party, said on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020 that Trump should be considered for his work “for reaching a peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel which opens up for possible peace in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Trump during an event at the White House called the 150 million tests a “massive and groundbreaking expansion” in the nation’s coronavirus testing capabilities.

Of the 150 million Abbott point-of-care tests, 50 million will “protect the most vulnerable communities,” Trump said. That includes 18 million tests for nursing homes, 15 million for assisted living facilities, and 10 million for home health and hospice care agencies.

The rest, 100 million tests, will go to states and territories to “support efforts to reopen their economies and schools immediately and as fast as they can,” the president said.

“It’s important to remember that as younger and healthier people return to work, and as we massively increase testing capacity, we will identify more cases in asymptomatic individuals in low-risk populations,” Trump said. “This should not cause undue alarm. The total number of cases is not the full metric of success.”

The

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White House announces major improvements in coronavirus testing (again)




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WASHINGTON — The setting was familiar, and so were the assurances. Speaking from the Rose Garden on Monday afternoon, President Trump promised a “massive and groundbreaking expansion” in the nation’s ability to perform diagnostic tests for the coronavirus. 

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“We are now at an inflection point in testing,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, a high-ranking Department of Health and Human Services official who is in charge of testing on the White House coronavirus task force. He said that 920,000 coronavirus diagnostic tests were now being performed nationwide each day. Some 7 million Americans have tested positive.

The expansion was made possible by Abbott Laboratories, whose rapid BinaxNOW test can return results in mere minutes without requiring the intrusive nasal swab that can make a coronavirus test an acutely unpleasant experience. 

The Trump administration purchased 150 million such tests for $760 million. They will go to nursing homes, schools and other institutions, including historically Black colleges and universities. 

Trump first promised that any American could get a coronavirus test in early March. That was untrue at the time, and though the availability of tests has greatly increased, shortages persist in the United States. So do days-long waits to receive results from laboratories. The BinaxNOW test does not need to be sent to a laboratory.

Ever the nation’s cheerleader, Trump tried to use Monday’s announcement as a pivot away from a summer marked by persistently high death counts and fears of a second lockdown.

“We’re rounding the corner,” Trump said on Monday afternoon. He said much the same thing from the Rose Garden in May, telling the nation that “we have met the moment, and we have prevailed.” In subsequent weeks and months, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, while receding in New York and other early hot

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