By: Richard L. Smith
A public relations firm in Bergen County has reached a settlement agreement with the United States following allegations of violating the False Claims Act by improperly obtaining a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).The announcement was made by Attorney for the United States, Vikas Khanna.
The Paycheck Protection Program was established by Congress in March 2020 as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Its primary objective was to provide essential financial assistance to those affected by the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering forgivable loans to small businesses grappling with payroll and other operational costs.
According to the complaint's allegations and the subsequent settlement agreement:
MWW Group LLC, operating under the name MikeWorldWide (MWW), applied for and received a PPP loan amounting to $2 million.
However, it was later discovered that MWW was ineligible for such a loan, as it was a required registrant under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.
Despite this, MWW proceeded to seek forgiveness for the entire loan amount.
MWW displayed full cooperation throughout the investigation and the resolution process.As part of the settlement agreement's terms, MWW has consented to pay the United States a sum of $2.29 million, in addition to accrued interest.
This settlement successfully concludes a lawsuit filed under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act.
This provision permits private individuals, known as relators, to file lawsuits on behalf of the United States in cases involving false claims and, in return, receive a portion of the government's recovery.
In this particular case, the relator will be awarded $229,000 as their share of the settlement.
This resolution demonstrates the government's commitment to safeguarding the integrity of programs like the PPP and holding accountable those who may attempt to take advantage of them improperly.