U.S. lenders, businesses brace for disclosure on small business pandemic aid

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans will soon get a first full look at which businesses received $515 billion of taxpayer funds when the government, after initial resistance by President Donald Trump’s administration, releases borrower data for one of its highest- profile pandemic aid efforts.

The colossal data set for the Paycheck Protection Program, to be released by the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration in the coming days, will provide transparency for a first-come-first-served program that from the outset was plagued by technology, paperwork and fairness issues.

That could make life uncomfortable for borrowers that broke the spirit or letter of the rules, and for banks that shoveled the money out the door. The aim of the $660 billion program was to help cash-strapped companies keep workers employed and make rent.

“There’s a level of anxiety,” said Suzie Saxman, a partner at Chicago-based law firm Seyfarth Shaw. “I’ve said to everybody: Prepare to be disclosed, prepare to be audited.”

The Treasury and SBA said they will release a swath of information, including the names, addresses, loan amount ranges and jobs supported for businesses that received $150,000 or more. That should account for roughly 75% of the dollars granted, but only 15% of the 4.7 million loans.

The agencies have not said when they will release the data.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin initially refused to release the data, saying it included proprietary business information. But under pressure from lawmakers, he agreed to shine a light on large borrowers.


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