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A former Olympian skater is accused of defrauding the federal Small Business Administration over a COVID-19 loan.
Luka Klasinc, a figure skater who competed at the 1992 Winter Olympics for Slovenia and who reigned as a national champion in his home country from 1990 to 1992, was charged this week with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
The ice skating champion was arrested on Monday before trying to board a flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Istanbul, ABC News reported. Investigators allege 48-year-old used falsified documents to obtain $1,595,800 in aid for his event management company BOB77, which operates “ice amusement parks” in Poland, Germany and Slovenia.
“As alleged, at a time when U.S. small businesses were struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Klasinc thought he could scam his way to easy money,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in the press release. “As alleged, Klasinc used false documents to try and obtain over a million dollars in funds intended to help hard working Americans but, thanks to the diligence of the FBI, his plans have been put on ice. He will now be held accountable for his alleged brazen lies.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. said that Klasnic is one of many trying to use funds aimed to “provide relief for businesses struggling during the pandemic” for “personal gain.”
If Klasnic is convicted of bank fraud, he could face up to 30 years in prison. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison term. Klasnic made an initial appearance on Tuesday, but he did not enter a plea. His lawyer Marisa Cabrera has not immediately responded to Oxygen.com's request for comment.
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