President Joe Biden signed two bills on Friday that give the federal government more time to catch and prosecute fraud related to two of the most popular COVID-19 small business relief programs — the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).
The bills are:
- H.R. 7352, the "PPP and Bank Fraud Enforcement Harmonization Act of 2022," which extends to 10 years the statute of limitation for fraud charges to be brought in connection with PPP loan applications. The law applies to first- or second-draw loans made under the program.
- H.R. 7334, the "COVID-19 EIDL Fraud Statute of Limitations Act of 2022," which gives prosecutors 10 years to file fraud charges connected to loan applications from the COVID-19-related EIDL program, including EIDL advances and Targeted EIDL advances.
The bills specify that any criminal charge or civil enforcement action alleging that fraud was committed shall be filed not later than 10 years after the offense was committed.
"The American people deserve to know that their tax dollars are being spent as intended," Biden said via teleconference. "My message to those cheats out there is this: You can't hide. We're going to find you. We're going to make you pay back what you stole and hold you accountable under the law."
The bills passed Congress with bipartisan support.
In October 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Inspector General identified $78.1 billion in potentially fraudulent EIDL loans and grants paid to ineligible entities and another $6.7 billion in loans and grants linked to alleged identity theft.
Last year, the agency identified more than 70,000 PPP loans, totaling more than $4.6 billion, that were potentially fraudulent.
In March, Biden announced the appointment of a Justice Department special prosecutor for COVID-19 pandemic relief to prosecute related fraud cases.
— To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Kevin Brewer at Kevin.Brewer@aicpa-cima.com.