United States relaxes criminal record allowance in coronavirus business loan program

FILE PHOTO: US President Donald Trump signs the Paycheck Protection Program and Improved Healthcare Act’s financial response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the office Oval of the White House in Washington, USA on April 24, 2020. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal authorities administering payday loans to businesses as part of the United States’ coronavirus relief efforts on Friday relaxed rules banning loans to business owners with criminal records, allowing some without conviction in the past year to access funds.

The US Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration have said the look-back period for non-financial crime convictions has been reduced to one year instead of five years. The prohibition threshold for business owners for crimes involving fraud, corruption, embezzlement and similar offenses remains five years, they said.

The change goes beyond what US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested on Wednesday. He said the criminal record review period would be reduced to three years.

The Paycheck Protection Program, part of a historic tax package worth nearly $ 3 trillion adopted by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, proposes to businesses loans that can be partially canceled if used for employee salaries.

The Treasury Department and the SBA said the decision was made in the interests of criminal justice reform.

Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Will Dunham

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