A Seattle-area “serial entrepreneur” has gone from giving a Ted Talk to doing the perp walk.
The Department of Justice announced Thursday it had arrested Mukund Mohan, formerly a regional director of Microsoft’s start-up boosting Ventures Accelerator, for allegedly defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program and embezzling $231,000. Mohan has promoted himself for years as a builder and marketer of successful new tech firms, even giving a 2013 speech on “Budding Entrepreneurs” at the TEDxMSRIT summit at Ramaiah Institute of Technology in Bangalore.
But the criminal complaint against him says he sought PPP loans for at least two of the companies he claimed in the past to have sold off, Vangal and Gitgrow—plus four other firms—in a scheme to obtain millions of dollars in federal assistance, money intended to preserve American jobs amid the COVID-19-linked economic collapse. The feds assert Mohan submitted falsified applications, tax documents, and incorporation records to lenders to disguise his ownership of the enterprises and to mask the fact he had no employees whatsoever.
According to the complaint, Mohan received loans totalling $1,355,107—and subsequently transferred $231,000 of those funds into a personal account.
Mohan’s claims about his business success have received coverage in both American and Indian media. But a 2015 report in the Delhi-based tech news site Inc42 revealed that many of his purported tech exploits were fabricated or exaggerated. The Daily Beast could not immediately confirm his employment at any firms other than Microsoft and BuildDirect, an online building supply seller headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, which lists him as its Chief Technology Officer.
Neither Microsoft, BuildDirect, nor Mohan himself responded to a request for comment.