Aggressive Defense Against Pandemic-Related Fraud Charges
Criminal defense attorneys anticipate civil and criminal fraud prosecutions to come about in the coming months and years over accusations of financial misconduct and fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Candice Fields Law, PC in Sacramento is well prepared to advise and defend business owners and others who may be targeted in investigations and prosecutions.
Since March 16, 2020, the United States attorney general has issued several memos detailing actions that the attorney general’s office is taking to prioritize the government’s response to pandemic-related fraud. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has formed special task forces to facilitate communication between state and federal officials. Pandemic-related fraud cases will be handled by the federal government as well as local law enforcement agencies for smaller cases.
Some of the probable fraud cases related to the COVID-19 pandemic that are likely to occur are described below. These cases will fall into one or more of the following categories:
- CARES Act (fraud related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and/or Economic Injury Disaster Loans)
- SEC regulation over inaccurate disclosures
- Insider trading
Read about each of these legal areas below. If you believe you are likely to be investigated or if you have already been contacted by authorities regarding any of these issues, consult with a skilled defense attorney as soon as possible.
About CARES Act-Related Fraud
CARES Act-related fraud prosecutions arising out of the PPP and EIDL loan programs are a growing trend. Current loan forgiveness and certification requirements will generate fertile ground for fraud investigation, and the federal government is looking for cases to set an example for future deterrence.
In the first sentencing for PPP loan-related fraud, the government warned, “The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. The PPP loan program is coming up on an important next step – loan forgiveness. [Businesses will need to certify] that they used the funds for their intended purpose: for payroll, rent and utilities.” The government has also expressed the intention that legal action against individuals and companies that have committed PPP loan fraud will serve as a deterrent for others who might commit similar fraud.
The DOJ is well-funded to prosecute PPP fraud. The first individuals in the nation have already been charged with fraudulently seeking CARES Act SBA payback protection loans. The government is publicizing the results of criminal prosecutions and civil regulatory enforcement having to do with fraud and CARES Act funding.
The government can seek a sentence based upon the total amount fraudulently applied for or, more favorably to the accused, only for the amount actually disbursed. An attorney skilled in negotiating loss calculation amounts can make a great difference in the outcome of such prosecutions. Candice Fields Law, PC is equipped to protect the rights and interests of the accused at this stage and at every step of the way.
About SEC Regulation Issues
In addition to criminal prosecutions, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can seek to regulate publicly traded companies accused of inaccurate disclosures and their employees accused of insider trading, as described below.
The SEC can take action against accused wrongdoers for allegedly violating reporting provisions of the federal securities laws. The SEC’s Enforcement Division includes a specially designated Coronavirus Steering Committee. These arms of the SEC will be looking closely at COVID-related disclosures and rewarding cooperation in investigations against potential wrongdoers. The SEC Steering Committee and the Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit are keeping vigil on trading activity among industries that have been affected by COVID-19 in an attempt to detect market manipulation. Specially developed processes for reviewing financial activities in certain industries will seek to identify irregularities that may indicate inaccurate disclosures.
The SEC conducts forensic examinations of trades to detect illegal insider trading. The Coronavirus Steering Committee in the SEC has been on the watch for unusual trades for that very purpose. Any company representative who has reason to suspect that their company may have had compliance problems should consult with an attorney before responding to any communications or requests for information from any federal or local law enforcement agency.
Act Quickly To Protect Yourself And Your Business
If you or your company have been (or may be) targeted for civil or criminal pandemic-related fraud allegations, the most prudent move you can make is to hire a skilled attorney and get ahead of the charges. Schedule a consultation with Candice Fields Law, PC calling 916-905-3629 or completing an online inquiry form. Ms. Fields will respond promptly.