75 publicly traded firms received coronavirus relief loans meant for small businesses: report

Publicly traded companies and firms that have been penalized in the past by the federal government were among those that received millions of dollars in loans from a coronavirus relief fund designed for small businesses, The Associated Press found in a new investigation.

The AP reports that at least 75 companies that received aid through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) were publicly traded. Some had market values of more than $100 million, and a quarter of the companies warned investors that their chances of remaining in business were not strong. 

The 75 companies received a combined $300 million in the loans, according to the news service's review of regulatory filings. Five of the companies were previously under investigation by regulators, including several that paid penalties to settle allegations.

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Eight of the companies or their subsidiaries received the maximum $10 million possible under the PPP, which ran out of money Thursday. One of those businesses, a California software company, settled a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation last year into overstated revenue, the AP reported.

The AP’s investigation also found examples of companies with foreign owners and ones that were delisted or were threatened with delisting from U.S. stock exchanges due to poor performances. Some of the companies had also reported years of losses.

One company, Wave Life Sciences USA Inc., a Boston-area biotechnology company that develops pharmaceuticals, received a $7.2 million loan, the AP noted. The business’s parent company is based in Singapore and reported net losses of $102 million, $147 million and $194 million over the last three fiscal years, according to the news service. 

“The livelihood of our U.S. employees and their families would be severely disrupted if they were to lose their jobs or be furloughed. We are doing everything we can to support them,” the company said in a statement to the AP.

Anger had already spiked earlier this week after nationwide chains and companies revealed that they received funds from the $349 billion program, which was intended to help businesses keep workers on their payrolls and prevent companies from being forced to close their doors during the pandemic. 

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Shake Shack announced this week that it was returning a $10 million small-business loan it received as part of the program, despite annual revenue of hundreds of millions of dollars. The owners of national restaurant chains such as Potbelly and Ruth’s Chris Steak House each reportedly received millions in loans from the program. 

Statistics released by the Small Businesses Administration found that 4,400 of the approved loans across the country were greater than $5 million. The typical loan, however, was $206,000, according to the AP.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? On The Money: Economy adds 4.8M jobs in June | Unemployment to average 6.1 percent through 2030: CBO | Mnuchin says no regrets on pushing to reopen Treasury approves 0 million loan to company being sued for overcharging Pentagon MORE told the news service in a statement that 74 percent of the loans were for less than $150,000, demonstrating “the accessibility of this program to even the smallest of small businesses.”

The Hill has reached out to the Treasury Department for comment.