Congress Directs SBA to Take Stab at COVID-19 Loan Fraud

President Biden signed two bills aimed at preventing fraud by participants within the Small Business Association on August 2, 2022. H.R. 7334 is titled the COVID-19 EIDL Fraud Statute of Limitations Act of 2022 (EIDL Act). H.R. 7352 is titled the PPP and Bank Fraud Enforcement Harmonization Act of 2022 (PPP Act). Both Acts establish a ten-year statute of limitations for fraud by borrowers under their respective programs. The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman credited the Acts with a renewed ability to investigate and prosecute borrowers who committed fraud in SBA lending programs created to assist small businesses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For both programs, the main purpose is to put in place a a ten-year statute of limitations for fraud.

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SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program: Affiliation Still Matters

The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program went into effect March 27, 2020.  At that time many business owners faced confusion in trying to navigate the affiliation rules to determine their company’s eligibility for the program. Fast forward nearly two years and many businesses that received Paycheck Protection Loans have submitted applications for forgiveness of those loans. Some of those businesses are now having to consider potential affiliation issues that they may have initially overlooked in response to inquiries from SBA in its review of their loan forgiveness application.

We thought this would be a good time to revisit the basics of SBA’s affiliation rules for the Paycheck Protection Program.

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SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program Now Closed

SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans provided nearly $800 billion dollars of crucial financial support to over 8.5 million businesses and nonprofit organizations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. But as the proverb goes, “all good things must come to an end.” SBA closed the PPP doors to new loan guaranty applications at the end of May 2021 and released a closing statement on the program’s success.

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Congress Changes the Rules on PPP Loan Forgiveness, but Questions Remain

Newly passed changes to the Paycheck Protection Program are designed to make it easier for small businesses to have their loans forgiven.

The Paycheck Protection Program has been around since the end of March and provides funds for small businesses to retain employees and keep operating during the global coronavirus pandemic. If used properly, the business should have all or a portion of the loan forgiven. The new law eases some of the restrictions on how that money can be spent.

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SBA: It’s (Maybe) Fine if You Didn’t Count the Employees of Your Foreign Affiliates for PPP Purposes

In what might be a classic “now you tell me” scenario, the SBA issued a new rule May 21 saying that if an applicant failed to count the employees of its foreign affiliates when it was determining its eligibility, the SBA will not hold that against the applicant so long as the application was submitted before the SBA clarified that requirement.

The problem with that, however, is that because the safe harbor ended May 18, it’s highly likely that a lot of those businesses already gave their PPP loan back. They’d be forgiven for thinking they had to, as earlier this month Sen. Marco Rubio was indicating that Congress would investigate companies who took PPP funds for which they weren’t eligible.

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SBA Releases PPP Loan Forgiveness Application

On May 15, SBA released the Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application. Because loan forgiveness was a huge component of Paycheck Protection Program, the application is hugely important. While this post won’t do a deep dive into the loan forgiveness rules, we wanted to bring this to the attention of our blog readers.

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Running the Numbers: SBA OIG Tallies Up Handling of PPP Loans

The SBA’s Office of Inspector General released an early report on SBA’s handling of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The report identified some important areas where SBA has not quite hit the mark in matching the priorities of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act with SBA’s implementation and guidance for PPP loans.

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