ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia husband and wife, now estranged, have both been convicted of money laundering and bank fraud after they stole $2.5 million in pandemic relief funds, spending the ill-gotten cash on luxury cars, jewelry and a palatial home in Loudoun County.
Didier Kindambu pleaded guilty to bank fraud in January 2021, admitting that he had submitted fabricated payrolls to secure $2.5 million in forgivable pandemic relief loans intended to cover paychecks for employees.
But while Kindambu has since been sentenced, his wife, Rose-Marie Nsahlai, denied the related charges brought against her, telling investigators that she had been unaware of Kindambu’s criminal activity.
Something Doesn’t Add Up
According to an affidavit, IRS investigators first became suspicious after Kindambu filed spreadsheets to support his loan application that claimed his company, Papillon, LLC, had a payroll of over $700,000 a month.
As part of the filing, Kindambu claimed the company had made over $600,000 in unemployment withholdings in 2019. No record of any contributions for that year — or any other — were ever found by the Virginia Employment Commission.
Kindambu also claimed that in 2019, Papillon had paid out over $7 million in payroll expenses, but all of the accounts connected to the company combined had paid out less than $2.5 million — an amount that would have included all of the expenses of the company, not just payroll.
Finally, Kindambu claimed that he had withheld $2.5 million in federal income tax from employees in 2019. The IRS had no records of any payroll taxes paid by the company that year.
Kindambu filed two more applications for Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loans, under the monikers “Papillon Air” and “Papillon Air Maintenance.” In total, the loans he was approved for were about $2.5 million.
Shortly after Kindambu was arrested, Nsahlai was interviewed by police and told them she was not involved in Kindambu’s company, believed it may have employed between 10 and 50 people and had warned Kindambu not to use the PPP loan for the down payment on an opulent home on Calphams Mill Court, a ritzy suburb in Loudoun County.
Kindambu pleaded guilty in 2021 and agreed to cooperate with the authorities, turning over his phone and computer to investigators.
He also turned over a “copy of a recorded conversation covertly made by KINDAMBU’s adult daughter of a conversation she had with her step-mother, NSAHLAI.”
“Did your dad tell you that I got $2.5 million from the government for loans that he has been using around?” Nsahlai said.
Kindambu’s phone also contained an email in which Nsahlai wrote:
Saw this. To get our numbers, we grossly exaggerated monthly. The first, Papillon
we did the monthly was approx. $700,000 to get a loan of $1.7 million.
Finally, metadata on the spreadsheets themselves showed that before being submitted, they were last edited by Nsahlai herself.
Still, Nsahlai persisted in maintaining her innocence, and defended herself at a trial that ended on March 6 with her conviction on all 5 counts brought against her.
Nsahlai will now face up to 30 years in prison, though her actual sentence will be set by a federal judge at a sentencing hearing on July 19.