Last year, the Small Business Administration rushed about $ 3.7 billion in pandemic relief to companies that were probably not eligible for the funds, according to a new audit, according to a new audit.
The SBA’s inspector general, Hannibal Ware, said there was “unprecedented fraud” in the agency’s handling of aid funds, and some of the money went to self-employed people whose claims of more staff were “flawed or illogical. “
In 2020, the Trump Administration’s Disaster Loan Disaster Loan Program dispensed nearly $ 210 billion in grants and loans to help small companies temporarily forced to close by the pandemic.
However, the audit showed that the SBA did not verify the information of the enterprises through the Do Not Pay system of the Ministry of Finance, as required by law.
“The severity of this is shocking,” said Greg Reibman, president of the Charles River Regional Chamber, which represents Newton, Needham, Watertown and Wellesley. “This is truly unfortunate because this money could have gone to small businesses that really needed it and were qualified to receive it.”
An agency spokesman said Thursday: “We agree with the SBA’s Office of the Inspector General that the Trump administration should have applied this risk management tool (the Do Not Pay system), and therefore the SBA did just that under the Biden-Harris procedure. Administration “.
The SBA said it is reviewing funds provided to businesses that are deemed ineligible.
But the inspector general acknowledged that the agency has made some progress in solving problems.
“We are even removing some of the issues that we identified in the core problem areas last year because the agency has made such significant progress that the issue is either resolved or no longer elevated to the level of a systemic issue,” Ware said.
According to Reibman, even with last year’s mistakes, a lot of money went to worthy companies.
“A lot of money was sent to the right place,” he said. “There are enterprises that would not have opened today without this.”