A Florida-based investment fund will pay approximately $22,000 as part of a settlement resolving the first False Claims Act (FCA) whistleblower case involving a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan in which the United States intervened.
Pan African Interchange and its owner, Stanley Damas, applied for two PPP loans on consecutive days in May 2020 and received the two loans in June 2020, according to a Thursday press release from U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez of the Southern District of Florida. The business had falsely certified it would not receive more than one PPP loan, the Justice Department stated.
Pan African Interchange and Damas repaid $208,332 to the United States, which was the proceeds of the second PPP loan it received. Under the settlement, the firm and Damas must pay an additional $21,583.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized the issuance of PPP loans to eligible small businesses struggling to pay employees and other business expenses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Under the PPP, in 2020, eligible businesses could obtain one Small Business Administration-guaranteed PPP loan. As part of the PPP application process, applicants would agree not to apply and receive a second PPP loan before Dec. 31, 2020.
A whistleblower, Bryan Quesenberry, filed a lawsuit in September 2020 under the qui tam provision of the FCA. In April, the United States intervened in the case.
According to a stipulation of dismissal, filed with the court Sept. 15, Quesenberry will receive 15 percent of the settlement amount.
Earlier this month, a Houston-based bank agreed to pay $18,700 to resolve allegations it processed a PPP loan for an ineligible recipient in what was believed to be a landmark FCA settlement.