The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a forgivable loan program created by the Federal CARES Act. The purpose is to help eligible small businesses, who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, keep employees on the payroll. In this program, small businesses are required to fill out an application to obtain forgivable loans to cover payroll, rent, utilities and other eligible expenses. The application form itself requires the applicant to certify that all information and documents submitted in support of the loan application, are “true and accurate in all material aspects”. Any person who knowingly makes a material false statement to obtain a loan from the PPP, is subject to federal prosecution, and a penalty of up to 5 years in federal prison, and up to a $ 250,000 fine. Now take a deep breath for a second, because the law is NOT designed to prosecute honest mistakes, minor or typographical errors. The law IS designed to punish attempts to defraud the program. So be careful and accurate in submitting your application to the PPP program, because the U.S. Justice Department has already ordered each U.S. Attorney’s Office to appoint a Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator.
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