An explosive new investigation of data from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) finds that, in Donald Trump’s final days in office, his administration rushed to eliminate oversight for loans which were flagged for potential fraud or further investigation — and wiped flags from nearly every one of the largest PPP loans.
The Project on Government Oversight (POGO), in a Wednesday report, revealed that the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), over the course of several week before President Joe Biden was inaugurated, there were many changes to the government. Trump administration went on a spreeto eliminate flags on PPP loan loans, of which the majority went directly to personally enriching the richest Americans. Officials from the Small Business Administration (SBA), as the administration was still in its lame duck period, removed 2.7 million flags between January 2020 and January 2021.
Special preference was given for the largest loans, which are often the most expensive. also went toThe largest corporations. On January 16, 2021, four days before President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Trump’s SBA wiped 99 percent of special review flags, which were given out to every loan above $2 million for separate investigatory purposes.
It is not surprising that Trump’s Trump administration went on a mass-clear spree to flag potential fraud flags before Trump was elected. Trump is a constant. gave huge financial favors to large corporations during his time in office — and though most large corporations were exempt from receiving PPP loans, some large corporations managed to skirt the rulesYou can still get loans.
Flagged loans accounted at least $189 Billion of the $800 Billion in the program. Because the vast majority of PPP loans — 95 percent — have been forgiven, it’s likely that many of these loans that had previously been flagged have been forgiven entirely.
Flagged loans are not always fraudulent. Many of them had flags that indicated clear reasons the recipient could have submitted a fraudulent loan application or should have been investigated. The most common flag, applied to over 785,000 loans, showed that the businesses didn’t exist before February 2020 and were therefore ineligible.
It’s unclear how many loans went to businesses for their intended purpose of saving small businesses from pandemic impacts. But a report done earlier this year estimated that only between about a quarter and a third of PPP loans went to saving workers’ jobs. The rest — about 66 to 77 percent — went to business owners and people like shareholders.
Many loans were made directly to the wealthy. Numerous billionaires or companies owned by billionaires received loans, like Republican fundraiser Joe Farrell or Kanye West’s apparel company, valued at $3 billion.
POGO discovered that one loan was given to a West Virginia Governor. Jim Justice, a Republican who is also the richest man of the state and a former billionaire, was awarded the loan. The loan was $8.9million and was flagged eight times by SBA. Another loan, with nine flags and a total value of $5 million, belongs to a Kentucky hospitality company whose annual revenue is $850 million. This would make it unqualified for a PPP loan.
Other loans, which are very often forgiven, went to politicians or their campaigns — including several far right politicians who have spent the last months spouting diatribes about how people buried in student debt aren’t “deserving” of debt relief. Representatives Majorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia)Mike Kelly (Republican-Pennsylvania), and Matt Gaetz(Republican-Florida), had hundreds of thousands of PPP loan debts forgiven.
In 2020, a previous investigation was conducted. POGO foundThere were at least 113 loan recipients who received hundreds of millions of PPP loans. They also made political contributions of approximately $11 million within a few hours of receiving the loan.