Audits and investigations of Small Business Administration programs have resulted, during a six-month period, in recovery of $6.6 million and in savings of $20.6 million that had not yet been disbursed or for which better use could be found, according to an SBA inspector general's report.
The recovery of $6.6 million between Oct. 1, 1980 and March 31 of this year was the result of audits and investigations into the agency's loan liquidations, outside contracting and small business investment company program, surety bond guarantee program and the 8(a) program to assist socially and economically disadvantaged business owners.
The $20.6 million was saved by tightening loan and other procedures and guarding against fraud, said Acting Inspector General Raymond F. Randolph.
For example, after auditing $800,600 in costs claimed by outside contractors, $409,000, or more than half, was saved because claims were disallowed, Randolph said.
In addition, 284 suspected violations among 111 companies were found in the small business investment company program. These included conflicts of interest, charging excessive interest rates to small businesses and improper uses of funds. "As of this report, SBA action is pending on 16 significant finding examinations," Randolph said. "Action has been taken on the remainder."
Investigation of the disaster loan program turned up $1.3 million in abuses, including loan recipients who failed to report excessive crop yields, received payments from another federal agency while getting disaster loans, misused funds or did not comply with federal floor insurance requirements, according to the inspector general's report.
During the six-month period, 103 investigations of SBA programs were completed, the largest of which were in the business loan program. Twenty other instances were referred to the Justice department and 148 additional cases were sent to the FBI, the inspector general's report said. Currently, 187 cases are under investigation in the business, small business investment, disaster, minority subcontracters, size standards and other lending programs. The investigations include possible fraud, misuse of loan funds, conversions of collateral and bribery.
The report also included summaries of three major investigations. In one instance, two principals in an SBA-licensed minority-enterprise small business investment company and a small-business officer conspired to obtain from the SBA a license and $500,000. The two MESBIC principals and bank officials also unsuccessfully attempted to get $2 million more, the report said.
In another case, the SBA guaranteed a $380,000 bank loan for three officers and owners of a small business who admitted a false loan application. About $100,000 of the loan was used improperly.
In the third case, a loan packager forced borrowers to purchase life insurance from him and charged a hidden fee for services given by a bank. If the borrower didn't buy the life insurance, he or she was threatened with cancellation of the loan by the packager. It later was discovered that the president of the bank had controlling interest in the packaging firm and in the life insurance company, the report said