11th Hour Announcement Says No Company Will Face Criminal Charges For Taking Taxpayer Money They Didn’t Need

WASHINGTON, D.C. Watchdog group Accountable.US today called for transparency after the Trump administration reversed its position on holding businesses accountable that improperly applied for and received loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The administration had pledged that businesses that took over $2 million in PPP assistance would face “criminal liability” if they falsely certified that their company was in need and did not return the money by May 14th.

But last night, on the eve of its own so-called ‘Safe Harbor’ deadline, the Trump SBA retracted its threat. The administration now says companies that inappropriately took over $2 million won’t face criminal consequences, and that those that look anything less are automatically assumed to have done so in “good faith.” Government watchdog Accountable.US called on the Trump administration to ‘put its money where its mouth is’ and actually enforce the law.  

“As a result of the Trump administration’s incompetence and corruption, billions of taxpayer dollars have gone to big companies, while more than 100,000 actual small businesses have shuttered,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Now the administration isn’t even going to try to account for billions of potentially misspent funds. That’s unacceptable — the American people deserve transparency around these loans and companies who improperly accepted funding should be held responsible.”

BACKGROUND: The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program has been plagued with reports of legitimate small businesses unable to access the help the President claimed would come in “record time”. They have faced a bureaucratic maze often ending in delays and rejection as banks reportedly prioritized those “with the best relationships — not the neediest or most deserving.” A recent survey of small businesses found only 13% of the 45% who applied for a PPP loan were ever approved. Meanwhile, CEOs of large companies have managed to coast through the process. Well over 500 publicly-traded firms or conflicted companies, some worth more than $100 million, have received over a billion dollars in taxpayer money. It’s no wonder the Trump administration has shied away from transparency in this process.

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