According to Reuters, the civil division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating several FinTech companies, including Kabbage Inc., to determine if the firms miscalculated the amount of aid owed to individual borrowers during the distribution of Paycheck Protection Program loans.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) relied on banks, FinTechs and community lenders to distribute $780 billion of forgivable government-backed loans to small businesses who maintained their payrolls. PPP participant lenders, however, faced widespread confusion over how to account for payroll taxes in the calculation of the loans, with some lenders over-accounting for taxes and thus inflating the loans, while others under-accounted taxes, thus denying borrowers aid to which they were entitled.
Fintech lenders, who issued around $26.6 billion worth of PPP loans, have attracted particular scrutiny from the DOJ over these miscalculations. According to Reuters’ sources, the industry’s use of high-speed software and automated lending platforms to process and approve PPP loans—which received few manual checks and was prone to software glitches—exacerbated loan errors by replicating miscalculations across thousands of loans. The DOJ is examining these possible errors.
While it is unclear whether the investigation will result in penalties against these companies, the probes highlight the unique legal and regulatory risks faced by the FinTech industry.