U.S. firms may face probes over payroll loans, Treasury, DOJ officials warn

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned on Wednesday that companies that received coronavirus rescue money intended for small businesses could be investigated if it appears they did not really need the money. Mnuchin said on Fox Business Network it was “questionable” whether some larger companies qualified for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), based on a self-certification step in the loan process. He said businesses need to look carefully at their applications to be sure they can certify that the forgivable loans of up to $10 million are necessary. As Congress readies another $310 billion in payroll loan funds for small businesses shut down by the coronavirus, Mnuchin’s comments indicate the administration is paying more attention to oversight during this round of funding. The initial $349 billion in small business loan funds, depleted in less than two weeks, went to companies including sandwich chain Potbelly Corp and steakhouse operator Ruth Hospitality Group, prompting complaints that smaller, independent restaurants and “mom and pop” businesses were squeezed out.

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