Kanye West’s clothing line and the Church of Scientology were among billion dollar brands that used US government loans designed to help businesses survive the Covid-19 pandemic.
The US Small Business Administration (SBA) said on Monday that the billionaire rapper’s Yeezy brand had been cleared to receive $ 5million (£ 4million) under the government’s small business loan scheme.
Three Church of Scientology sites in New York, Washington DC and Florida have also been authorized to receive loans between $ 150,000 (£ 120,000) and $ 350,000 (£ 278,000) each.
The U.S. Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in March to secure small loans to businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 workers amid Covid-19 shutdowns.
This coronavirus bill set aside more than $ 320 billion (£ 256 billion) in public funds to help small businesses that had to struggle amid the pandemic.
Almost three months later, the SBA List released on Monday shows Mr West and other billionaires used the P3s to receive loans.
“The PPP was sold to the American people as a program to help Mom-and-Pop stores keep their lights on during the pandemic,” said Kyle Herrig, chairman of watchdog Accountable.US. NBC News. “The reality is that the Trump administration has created a program that has helped the cut well connected at the front of the line to get these loans.”
PPP contenders also included multi-millionaire pop artist Jeff Koons, Hollywood producer Francis Ford Coppola, Hamptons real estate developer Joe Farrell and the Church of Scientology, which is estimated to be worth at least $ 1 billion ($ 802 million pounds sterling).
These companies had to prove in their application that “the current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the applicant’s ongoing operations”.
Applicants were also asked to ensure the loan was used to retain workers, maintain payroll, and make essential payments.
Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Monday that more than 80% of employees in small businesses have benefited from P3 loans.
He added, “We are particularly pleased that 27% of the program reach in low and moderate income communities, which is proportional to the percentage of the population in those areas. ”
The SBA announcement comes as Mr West mocks his last-minute bid to compete in the 2020 presidential race.
He tweeted: “We must now fulfill America’s promise by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for President of the United States.