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Texas PPP and EIDL Loan Fraud Lawyers

Navigating PPP and EIDL Loan Fraud Charges: Why You Need an Experienced Federal Defense Attorney

The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented financial hardship for businesses across Texas. To help struggling companies stay afloat, the federal government made billions in small business relief funds available through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. However, in their haste to distribute aid, regulators relaxed oversight standards. This lack of scrutiny, paired with complicated and frequently changing program rules, created opportunities for business owners to intentionally or accidentally misuse loans.

Now, federal investigators are auditing PPP and EIDL loans for potential fraud. If you’re contacted regarding an investigation, it’s critical to engage an attorney immediately to protect your rights. Here’s what you need to know about responding to federal loan fraud allegations and finding the right lawyer for your situation.

A Complex Web of Federal Rules and Regulations

The PPP and EIDL programs involved various federal agencies with different – and sometimes conflicting – guidelines. The Small Business Administration (SBA) oversaw the EIDL loans, while the PPP fell under the U.S. Treasury Department. However, both programs allowed applicants to use loan funds for payroll, rent, utilities, and other approved business expenses.

With agencies frantically trying to distribute aid, understanding of the rules was murky at best. The Treasury Department changed PPP rules multiple times following the program’s launch.

This uncertainty left many borrowers confused about how loans could be spent and later forgiven. Unfortunately, honest mistakes can still constitute fraud in the eyes of investigators. Without experienced legal counsel, business owners risk severe consequences like criminal prosecution or permanent program exclusion – even if unintentional errors occurred.

Responding to a Federal Investigation

If you’re contacted regarding possible PPP or EIDL fraud, you could be facing an inquiry from agencies like:

  • The Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA OIG)
  • Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division (IRS CI)
  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)

These agencies have broad authority to gather evidence in white collar cases. Their strategies may include:

  • Document requests – Demands to produce financial statements, bank records, tax returns, loan applications, and other paperwork.
  • Testimony – Interviews under oath before a grand jury, during which lying is a felony.
  • Surveillance – Monitoring of calls, emails, texts, social media, and movements.
  • Search warrants – Seizure of records, computers, phones, and other items from home or business.

If contacted by federal agents, remain calm and do not agree to produce documents, sit for questioning, or sign anything before consulting with counsel. Be aware you have the right to an attorney even if you’re told otherwise. Politely defer questions by stating you wish to have your lawyer present.

Building an Effective Defense Strategy

Because the rules governing use of federal relief funds were complex, you may have an excellent defense even if errors were made. However, developing legal arguments and strategies requires intimate expertise in the regulatory framework. This is why engaging an attorney experienced in federal white collar cases is so critical.

When choosing counsel, you want a lawyer with specific expertise in navigating high-stakes federal investigations as well as defending complex financial crimes cases. Look for an attorney with a proven track record handling matters involving the SBA, FBI, DOJ, and other agencies.

It takes substantial experience litigating in federal court to effectively counter the government’s tactics and legal firepower. Your lawyer should be prepared to aggressively defend your interests before agencies as well as in court if charges are filed.

Key Attorney Selection Criteria

To boost your chances of the best possible outcome, seek counsel with:

  • In-depth knowledge of SBA, PPP and EIDL program rules and history
  • Relationships with regulators and prosecutors
  • Familiarity with common investigative strategies
  • Success defending white collar cases and financial allegations
  • Expertise with motions to suppress evidence improperly gathered
  • Skills negotiating with agencies pre-charge when possible
  • Ability to build prosecutorial misconduct claims
  • Talent examining weaknesses in the government’s case
  • Preparation to take cases to trial with aggressive defense strategies

It’s also wise to choose someone with trial experience specifically in the federal court district where your case originates. Federal courts have their own unique procedures and rules. Local knowledge makes a difference.

A Team Approach to Your Best Defense

Given the high stakes in federal financial crime investigations, a multi-disciplinary defense team is recommended. At minimum, your team should include an accomplished lead counsel knowledgeable in the issues surrounding COVID-19 relief programs.

You may also want to engage forensic accountants to audit your loan applications and use of funds. Their analysis will identify potential compliance problems – or prove your activities followed the rules. Utilizing accounting experts helps demonstrate good faith efforts to properly handle loan monies.

Retaining experienced former prosecutors is another smart move. Their insights into the government’s game plan can prove invaluable. They may also open doors to negotiating pre-charge resolutions.

Facing Allegations with Confidence

Responding to federal fraud accusations is intimidating regardless of the circumstances. But you can take comfort knowing these cases are defensible when counsel with the right skills is engaged promptly. Don’t go it alone and don’t wait to seek help. With an experienced attorney guiding your strategy, you can face allegations confidently.

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