REPORT: Wells Fargo reported giving only one large PPP loan to a Black-owned business
WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to new reporting by Salon, of the more than 12,000 SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans that Wells Fargo handled valued at $150,000 or higher, the bank reported distributing only one PPP loan to a Black-owned business. Additionally, unlike other lenders, Wells Fargo neglected to disclose any job retention data for over 8,000 of these loans and reported ZERO jobs saved for the remainder of the 12,000+ loans it made. The other 4 biggest U.S. banks only neglected to report jobs data on only about 290 of the more than 78,000 PPP loans they handled.
“Trump PPP failed to support small businesses in communities of color who are disproportionately impacted by this crisis, while wealthy publicly traded companies got the red-carpet treatment,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, the government watchdog behind www.TrumpBailouts.org. “The rejection of transparency and accountability sent a clear message to banks that they were free to ignore Black, Latinx or Asian small business owners in need without consequence – and that’s exactly what they did. Congress needs to replace PPP with a new program that ensures resources make it to underserved communities across the country.”
- The Trump administration’s reliance on big banks to distribute small business aid under the Paycheck Protection Program and a lack of transparency requirements have resulted in many Black-owned businesses being shut out of the program. One bank, Wells Fargo, reported distributing only one PPP loan larger than $150,000 to a Black-owned business out of the more than 12,000 it gave out.
- Big banks face multiple class-action lawsuits alleging they prioritized existing corporate clients over needy small businesses. The economic shock of the coronavirus and the lack of relief has left Black-owned businesses without a safety net, and as many as half may not survive the pandemic. Part of the reason that so many Black-owned businesses were excluded is a lack of government oversight. The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration did not require applicants or banks to report demographic information — or even how many jobs the loans would save.
- Wells Fargo, one of the largest banks in the U.S., reported distributing 12,147 PPP loans valued at $150,000 or more, according to data released by the Small Business Administration. It did not list how many jobs were retained on 8,190 of those loans, and it reported zero jobs saved on 3,957 of those loans. The bank reported race and ethnicity data on only 37 of those loans, only one of which went to a Black-owned business.
- The problem is not limited to Wells Fargo. Hundreds of thousands of loans distributed by banks listed zero jobs saved, which experts say will “make accountability a challenge.” This may also cause problems for companies when the loan forgiveness begins.
- It remains unclear why the SBA provided so few requirements for banks, given that many have a controversial past when it comes to racial discrimination.
- In 2012, Wells Fargo settled with the Department of Justice for $175 million after it was accused of charging Black and Latinx applicants higher rates and fees for home loans. It also agreed to pay millions to homeowners in Baltimore, which sued the bank in 2008 for “reverse redlining” practices that resulted in higher rates of foreclosure in minority communities.
- In 2017, the Comptroller of the Currency said the bank “flunked” its community lending test due to the “extent and egregious nature of the evidence of discriminatory and illegal credit practices” and “extensive and pervasive pattern and practice of violations across multiple lines of business within the bank.”
- A federal investigation last year also found that the bank had discriminated against thousands of Black and women job applicants. Despite its history, the Federal Reserve lifted its asset cap on the bank so it could offer PPP and other relief loans after it had been barred from growing its assets as a result of several scandals. The bank has paid more than $18 billion for the “widespread mistreatment of customers” since the 2008 financial crisis. In 2017, the bank admitted to creating about 3.5 million fake accounts to meet sales targets.
- The bank now faces a class-action lawsuit accusing it of unfair practices against some small businesses which sought PPP loans, as well as a federal investigation into its PPP lending practices.