Media outlets have requested information from the Small Business Administration (SBA) through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for information about lenders and recipients under the $659 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, the SBA has not responded to the media inquiries or provided the information requested. Several media outlets, including The Washington Post, the New York Times, NBC, CNN, the Associated Press, and others, have filed a lawsuit against the SBA for failing to fulfill their FOIA requests.
What are the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program?
A key provision of the CARES Act is the PPP, which was implemented by the SBA to bring relief to small businesses struggling during the coronavirus crisis. Small businesses are provided with funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs, benefits, rent, and utilities. According to the SBA’s Office of Inspector General, in the first two weeks of the PPP lenders approved more than 1,661,000 loans totaling about $342.3 billion. After the President approved additional funds, another 2,441,369 loans were issued totaling $183.5 billion.
Opportunity for Fraud & Oversight
The nearly $700 billion in PPP loans has gotten the attention of both fraudsters and the media. Criminals immediately saw the opportunity to make money. For example, a man is facing federal fraud charges in New York for scamming the PPP to get more than $20 million in loans. He falsely claimed to employ hundreds of people and fabricated documents submitted with the loan applications.
Meanwhile, the media immediately has seen the need for oversight. Their efforts to shine a light on fraud may be delayed for now, but there are other ways people can take steps to combat this type of fraud.
How Whistleblowers Can Help
The lack of transparency at the SBA and the increasing number of fraudsters taking advantage of the PPP means now more than ever our country needs whistleblowers to come forward with information about these fraudulent schemes. The CARES Act and PPP—both funded by taxpayer money—were created to help keep struggling businesses open and provide paychecks to their employees. Individuals and companies fraudulently taking advantage of these programs need to be held accountable. If you have information about fraud related to the CARES Act or the PPP, you should talk to an experienced whistleblower attorney about your rights and protections. You can also receive a portion of the money recovered.
Contact Baron & Budd
With over 30 years of experience in Qui Tam cases, the attorneys on Baron & Budd’s whistleblower representation team have represented some 70 clients in government fraud cases returning over $5.4 billion to federal and state agencies, with whistleblower recovery shares as high as 49%. They are ready to help if you feel you have the evidence needed in order to blow the whistle and pursue a lawsuit.
Please call (866) 401-5971 or complete our contact form if you would like more information. For more information, see What You Need to Know About Becoming a Whistleblower. Please understand that contacting us does not mean that you have established an attorney-client relationship with Baron & Budd, P.C.
If you enjoyed reading this, then please explore our other articles below: