US TREASURY CHIEF REFUSES TO DISCLOSE RECIPIENTS OF COVID-19 AID
Building ramparts of secrecy around a $600 billion-plus coronavirus aid program for small businesses, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has moved from delay to denial in refusing outright to disclose the recipients of taxpayer-funded loans, Marcy Gordon and Mary Clare Jalonick wrote for the Associated Press (AP) on June 13, 2020.
Mnuchin told Congress at a hearing this week that the names of loan recipients and the amounts are “proprietary information.” While he claimed the information is confidential, ethics advocates and some lawmakers see the move as an attempt to dodge accountability for how the money is spent.
Businesses struggled to obtain loans in the early weeks of the program, and several hundred publicly-traded companies received loans despite their likely ability to get the money from private financial sources. Publicly shamed, a number of big corporations said they would return their loans. About 10 weeks after the Paycheck Protection Program was launched, the SBA says it has processed 4.5 million loans worth $511 billion. But it has yet to make public the recipients of taxpayer aid. The agency has only provided general information, such as the total amounts of loans awarded in a given time period.
“Given the many problems with the program, it is imperative American taxpayers know if the money is going where Congress intended — to the truly small and unbanked small business,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday. “The administration’s resistance to transparency is outrageous and only serves to raise further suspicions about how the funds are being distributed and who is actually benefiting.”