Bipartisan legislation signed by US President Joe Biden will give prosecutors more time to look into fraudsters who took advantage of the nation's COVID-19 business support schemes.
The law extending the statute of limitations for criminal and civil actions related to Paycheck Protection Programme and Economic Injury Disaster Loan fraud investigations from five to ten years was signed by President Biden on Friday.
"Too much of the small business relief funding, which was passed by the Congress, ended up in the hands of those who either did not need it or criminal syndicates who outright stole the money," President Biden said during the signing ceremony.
He continued, "Today, I am signing two bipartisan bills that will give federal and local prosecutors more time to hold criminals accountable for cheating the American people during a once-in-a-century pandemic.
He emphasized that extending the statute of limitations was "essential" in order to "make sure fraudsters can not run out the clock."
"My message to those cheats out there is this: You can’t hide. We’re going to find you. We’re going to make you pay back what you stole and hold you accountable under the law," he said.
Trump "undermined the watchdogs who were supposed to be on the job to make sure relief went to mom-and-pop businesses who were supposed to get it in the first place," the author claimed, adding that the Trump administration "let the biggest businesses with the teams of lawyers and accountants skip to the front of the line."
Repeating a line from his State of the Union speech, in which he said the Justice Department would be hiring a Chief Prosecutor for Pandemic Fraud, of whom Kevin Chambers has now been appointed, he emphasized that the "watchdogs are back."
In April, federal prosecutors charged 21 people for allegedly attempting to defraud government health care programs of $149M (€145M) through several pandemic-related scams. According to sources, the US Secret Service has seized more than a billion dollars in relief funds.
By fLEXI tEAM