The federal government is starting to pressure large corporations into returning coronavirus stimulus dollars they may have received improperly, the Associated Press reports. The Small Business Administration issued a stern warning Thursday to businesses that took checks from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), saying the companies needed to prove their eligibility or return the money by May 7. Major chains have taken blame for the rapid depletion of the PPP, a government coronavirus stimulus initiative meant to offer funding to businesses with fewer than 500 employees keep staff on the payroll and continue operations. Because publicly traded companies can offer stock to obtain an infusion of capital, unlike small private businesses, the SBA deemed it unlikely that they would qualify under the advisory’s guidelines.
The owner of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse said Thursday that the company would return the $20 million it received under the program, CNBC reports. The fast food burger chain Shake Shack vowed to return a $10 million loan earlier this week.