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Coronavirus

Hawaii CEO Accused of Virus Loan Fraud Pleads Not Guilty

HONOLULU—A former CEO of a Hawaii company accused of defrauding banks of money meant to assist businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic is pleading not guilty.

Martin Kao, ex-CEO of Martin Defense Group LLC, formerly known as Navatek LLC, is charged with bank fraud and money laundering.

A spokeswoman says he stepped down in November.

Authorities say he defrauded banks of more than $12.8 million through the Paycheck Protection Program. According to an indictment, Kao transferred more than $2 million into his own personal accounts.

Congress authorized the program to provide emergency financial assistance through forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and other expenses.

Defense attorney Michael Green entered the not guilty plea during a brief arraignment via telephone Wednesday.

Trial is scheduled for July. Green says he anticipates the trial will be postponed because the case involves thousands of pages of discovery.

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