US prosecutes former Olympic figure skater for COVID-19 small business fraud

New York — Former Slovenian figure skater at the 1992 Winter Olympics has been criminally charged in Manhattan for fraudulently raising $ 1.6 million to help U.S. SMEs deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. ..

On Tuesday, a U.S. prosecutor charged Luka Klasinc, 48, with bank fraud and personal information theft, which was exacerbated in connection with alleged use of counterfeit documents. Fraud charges are up to 30 years in prison.

The federal public defender on behalf of Klasinc did not immediately respond to the request for comment.

According to prosecutors, Klasinc owns BOB77 LLC and has hosted ice-themed amusement park events in places such as Warsaw, Poland. Düsseldorf, Germany; and Ljubljana, Slovenia.

According to court documents, BOB77 received a $ 1.6 million Small Business Administration (SBA) “economic damages loan” from July to September 2020.

After Klasinc’s bank frozen its account on suspicion of fraud, Klasinc allegedly provided a forged letter to SBA letterhead to “verify” the legitimacy of the funds.

Klasinc flew from Istanbul on May 31 and visited the bank three times to access the funds, but was denied and the bank warned law enforcement agencies.

The bank returned $ 848,383 from the BOB77 account to the SBA, the prosecutor added.

Klasinc was arrested on Monday and the prosecution said he would return to Istanbul.

Audrey Strauss, a lawyer in Manhattan, said, “When US small businesses were struggling with the pandemic of the new coronavirus, Krasink thought he could easily scam a way to make money.” The plan was placed on the ice. “

Klasinc competed in figure skating men’s singles at the Olympic Games in Albertville, France, but did not reach free skating.

Jonathan Stempel

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