President Biden signs laws aimed at tackling COVID aid fraud

President Biden signed two bills on Friday designed to increase the Justice Department’s capacity to investigate and prosecute fraud cases related to the distribution of aid funds to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Laws give prosecutors more time to sue PPP fraud

The two bills HR 7334 and HR 7352 were previously passed by the House of Congress and would establish a 10-year statute of limitations for prosecutions related to fraud related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). ) ).

“The American people deserve to know that their tax dollars are being spent as intended. My message to those cheats out there is this: you can’t hide. We’re going to find you. We’re going to make sure you repay what you stole and hold you accountable under the law,” President Biden said.

The federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program supported small businesses to pay their employees after businesses were forced to close during the pandemic, while the EIDL loans and grants gave small businesses money to use for working capital and other normal operating expenses.

The bills were passed by Congress with strong bipartisan support and will help extend the statute of limitations for government-backed loan fraud cases. These are part of a series of measures being taken by the Biden administration to increase the ability of prosecutors to file charges related to the Paycheck Protection Program and the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

In March, the administration appointed a special prosecutor for PPP fraud. The new laws will further add to the legislative measures available to prosecutors to deal with fraudsters at the state and federal levels.

The signing of these two bills was commended by the Small Business Administration (SBA). “I want to thank the bipartisan leadership in the House and Senate, including Speaker of the House Small Business Committee Nydia Velazquez and Ranking Member Blaine Luetkemeyer, for passing this legislation, and I am so happy to stand alongside President Biden ​​as he signs it into law today,” said Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the SBA.

Billions stolen in fraudulent loans

In May 2022, SBA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report stating that the vulnerability of the COVID EIDL program to fraud was a major challenge. The report had identified $78.1 billion in potentially fraudulent loans and grants to ineligible entities, as well as $6.7 billion in loans and grants related to allegations of identity theft. This is in addition to the more than 70,000 loans identified totaling more than $4.6 billion in potentially fraudulent PPP loans.

“Despite our great progress, we know that some of the loans approved under the previous government were not legitimate. I personally worked closely with Inspector General Hannibal Ware and our dedicated teams to ensure transparency and track down the people who misused these aid programs so that they can be held accountable. This legislation extends the runway for those investigations and the prosecutions they support,” said Isabella Casillas Guzman.

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Image: Depositphotos

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