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Dirty Details Emerge as to Why Mnuchin Is Fighting Congress Over Releasing the Names of Recipients of PPP Loans

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Steve Mnuchin Gives Interview to CNBC Outside of White House on Friday, March 13, 2020

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

Taxpayers’ money is being used to make the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Thus, the public has every right to know the names of the recipients of those loans. Despite originally promising transparency, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is now stonewalling Congress on releasing a list of the recipients.

Congress sold the plan to the public on the basis that the loans would go to small businesses with less than 500 employees. The funds were to be predominantly used to keep workers employed and allow the businesses to survive the coronavirus shutdowns.

Instead, our search of filings at the Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that dozens of debt zombie companies that trade on Nasdaq got the loans. Dozens of publicly-traded companies with large credit lines from banks got the loans. Dozens of companies with a lot more than 500 employees got the loans. It’s beginning to look like tens of billions of dollars in PPP loans were simply funneled out the door rapidly with little oversight into who was getting the loans.

After news reports revealed that large, publicly traded companies had taken out PPP loans, the Small Business Administration that oversees the program published this clarification: “Borrowers must also take into account their ability to access other sources of liquidity sufficient to support their ongoing operations in a manner that is not significantly detrimental to the business. For example, it is considered unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith.”

Making it more abundantly clear that publicly traded companies were not what Congress had in mind for the PPP loans, members of the House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released a letter that they had sent to Dennis Oates, the CEO of Universal Stainless & Alloy Products, Inc., which had taken out a $10 million PPP loan. The House members told Oates to “return these funds immediately” and explained the Congressional intent for the PPP program as follows:

“When Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act with broad bipartisan support, we intended to provide an invaluable lifeline for small businesses that otherwise might be forced to lay off employees or shut down entirely. We did not intend for these funds to be used by large corporations that have a substantial investor base and access to capital markets.”

The SEC filings show that many other large corporations have not returned their PPP loan funds.

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