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Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 07:19 pm
Though whispers of the U.S. Treasury Department discontinuing automated audits on businesses which garnered less than $2 million through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) might be circulating, don’t be duped into thinking the scrutiny on PPP borrowers has ceased. Indeed, the Small Business Administration (SBA) remains committed to auditing all PPP loan benefactors of $2 million and above. Simultaneously, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has their sleuths conducting separate investigations on alleged PPP loan skulduggery, irrespective of loans being under the SBA’s $2 million audit bracket.
An outcome of these sustained probes and audits is the freezing of some PPP loan accounts. This action could be the maiden red flag indicating a company’s loan application or usage of PPP funds is under the microscope – a grave matter necessitating swift action from knowledgeable federal defense counsel.
What incites such fervent examination of PPP loan beneficiaries? The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, despite being a recent introduction, the PPP and its beneficiaries have come under the intense gaze. The PPP facilitated companies to secure forgivable federal loans effortlessly. Given the nation’s economic standstill triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was tremendously popular. However, this popularity also cast it as a lucrative prey for fraudulent activities.
Out of the inaugural $349 billion pool allocated to the PPP, it is anticipated that a significant sum – possibly in the tens or hundreds of millions – were either claimed by fraudulent loan applicants or channeled towards unpermitted activities under the forgiveness terms of the PPP. This misdirection has invoked criticism in the press and compelled the federal government to keep a keen eye on companies currently harnessing PPP funds. For several companies, this is a moment of reckoning, with the stakes astronomically high.
As the DOJ and SBA doggedly strive to unearth and penalize instances of PPP loan fraud, many are left wondering: What truly characterizes PPP loan fraud?
Delving into this subject previously, we identified seven potential forms of PPP loan fraud, namely:
– Accumulating (“stacking”) PPP loans from different lenders
– Distorting or suppressing information during an audit or probe
– Submitting fraudulent attestations for loan forgiveness or loan application
– Supplying false or misleading data in support of a loan application
– Utilizing PPP funds for illicit activities
– Misusing PPP funds for ineligible expenditures, such as anything beyond payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
Our lawyers represent not only businesses confronted with PPP loan fraud allegations but also assist with proactive compliance. If you harbor any questions or concerns about the PPP application stipulations or the program’s forgiveness eligibility prerequisites, we are here to assist. Entrust us to guide you through this convoluted process and safeguard your business from the harmful repercussions of PPP loan fraud.
While the PPP was designed to extend much-needed succor to floundering businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, exploiting the program is a grave offense not taken lightly. Offenders can face severe punitive measures, including hefty fines and potential federal imprisonment for years or even decades. The DOJ has already filed criminal
complaints for crimes such as aggravated identity theft, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and wire fraud.
Companies, their owners, and executives could also face civil penalties, such as fines and a loss of government contract and program eligibility. It’s important to remember there are potential effective defenses for these federal offenses, such as demonstrating adherence to the program’s requirements and usage of PPP funds for their intended purpose.
If your company’s PPP loan account has been frozen, seeking the assistance of seasoned attorneys and former federal agents is crucial. They can provide a staunch defense using all available resources and can assist you in navigating the intricate legal landscape. Don’t hesitate to seek a free and confidential evaluation of your PPP loan fraud case. The stakes are high, and a PPP loan prosecution can have severe implications, but with an adept defense, you can shield both yourself and your business.
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