Passed in March 2020 to address the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. economy, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided over $2 trillion in economic relief to businesses and workers. The CARES Act offered relief through several different programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Express Bridge Loans, and Provider Relief Fund.
Under the PPP program, small businesses could apply for forgivable loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to cover expenses and retain or hire back employees who may have been laid off due to the coronavirus shutdowns. To date, the SBA has approved over 7.5 million PPP loans totaling more than $687 billion. Almost immediately, the Department of Justice (DOJ) began to prioritize investigating and charging CARES Act fraud cases, including PPP loan fraud.
As of March 2021, the DOJ has charged approximately 100 defendants involved in more than $260 million of PPP fraud. The DOJ has also used civil enforcement tools like the False Claims Act (FCA) and Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) to combat CARES Act fraud, as evidenced by a recent FCA and FIRREA settlement. Under the Biden administration, the DOJ will likely devote more time and resources to prosecute CARES Act fraud through criminal and civil actions. Join the virtual CLE discussion and learn how prominent white-collar defense counsel and prosecutors are defending and charging these CARES Act fraud cases.