DOJ Scrutiny Has Shifted to Banks That Rolled Out Pandemic Loans
In this article, Andrew Wise, Richard Gallena, and Jeffrey Lehtman describe how banks that deployed small business loans during the pandemic are the next target for Department of Justice (DOJ) scrutiny of fraudulent lending and misuse of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds. The PPP authorized nearly $800 billion in forgivable loans intended to save small businesses and the jobs they provided during the pandemic. The Small Business Administration (SBA) administered the loans, guiding banks and start-up lenders that processed loan applications and urged quick deployment of the funds. What followed has since been described as the biggest fraud in a generation. Recent reports suggest the DOJ is now turning its attention to the lenders that approved the loans. In this article, the authors discuss potential targets, legal theories, and business practices that DOJ may scrutinize. They conclude with specific recommendations on steps banks can take to prepare in advance of a DOJ-led investigation.