On June 5, President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (the Flexibility Act). The act revised, in certain important respects, elements of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that had appeared in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, as supplemented by a series of interim final rules and FAQs published by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Below is a summary of the changes.
On June 8, 2020, the Federal Reserve Board (Federal Reserve or FRB) announced a number of changes to the terms and conditions for three Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) facilities: the Main Street New Loan Facility (MSNLF), the Main Street Priority Loan Facility (MSPLF), and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility (MSELF). The Federal Reserve anticipates lender registration to be open in the coming days.
In response to feedback received from industry groups and others, the Federal Reserve made the following changes to the MSLP, which will make the program available to more small and medium-sized businesses:
- Reducing the minimum loan size for the MSNLF and MSPLF from $500,000 to $250,000
- Increasing the maximum loan size for all facilities
- Increasing the term of each loan option from four to five years
- Deferring the initial principal payments for two years, rather than one
- Reducing the lenders’ risk retention in the MSPLF from 15% to 5%; as a result, the MSLP special purpose vehicle will purchase a 95% participation in qualifying loans under all three facilities
On Friday, May 22, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released two new Interim Final Rules (collectively, the Rules) governing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans: (1) the Loan Forgiveness Requirements (Forgiveness Rule) and (2) the SBA Loan Review Procedures and Related Borrower and Lender Responsibilities (Lender Responsibility Rule). These Rules provide lenders of PPP loans (Lenders) some of the first clear answers on their responsibilities with respect to processing PPP Loan Forgiveness Applications, and it is fair to say that those responsibilities likely exceeded what many Lenders expected, much less desired. This memorandum summarizes the requirements and procedures the new Rules place on Lenders for reviewing PPP loans and Loan Forgiveness Applications, and suggests some unanswered questions raised by them.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) presents various risks to banks, including litigation from customers, prospective customers, and third parties, as well as enforcement actions from the government and bank regulatory agencies.
An analysis of the several dozen lawsuits filed in the months after the enactment of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act reveals that PPP litigation is trending in five preliminary categories: PPP eligibility restrictions, PPP loan prioritization, agent fees, default on debt, and False Claims Act, each detailed below with other litigation risks.
The PPP also presents regulatory risk to banks, including but not limited to nonpayment of guarantee by the US Small Business Administration (SBA), fair lending risk, Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) compliance risk, and PPP compliance risk, each detailed below.
In a significant, and overall welcome, development, on May 13, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued additional guidance regarding the required certification by applicants for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan that the “current economic uncertainty makes th[e] loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”
Borrowers applying for a PPP loan are required to make the certification in good faith, and the SBA had previously issued guidance stating that all PPP loans of more than $2 million would be subject to audit to determine whether the borrower had an adequate basis for making the certification. This prior guidance also established that any borrower that repaid the PPP loan in full on or prior to May 7, 2020 (subsequently extended to May 14, 2020, and now further extended to May 18, 2020), would be deemed to have made the certification in good faith (see FAQ 31, FAQ 37, Interim Final Rule on Extension of Limited Safe Harbor with Respect to Certification Concerning Need for PPP Loan Requested dated May 8, 2020, and FAQ 47).
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides for, among other things, an “employee retention tax credit” for employers that are forced to suspend operations or experience a financial downturn. The CARES Act disqualified employers that received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from taking the employee retention tax credit. Some employers that received PPP loans are now contemplating repaying the loans based on recently released guidance clarifying the scope of employers that are eligible for the PPP. The guidance allows employers that received PPP funds to repay the funds by May 14 without penalty.