State data point out that Illinois has despatched $ 1.1 million in coronavirus reduction funds to “dissolved” corporations
SPRINGFIELD, IL (NEXSTAR) – A review of government records shows that the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities has granted business interruption grants of at least $ 1.1 million to 72 companies that the state considers “dissolved”.
To qualify for coronavirus relief funding, government application forms show that companies had to certify that they were open on March 1, 2020, that they would try to stay open year-round, and the money “solely for costs incurred and losses would use due to the business interruption “caused by Covid-19.
Company registration records held in the Secretary of State’s office indicated that at least 72 of the companies that had received grants were deemed dissolved or terminated long before the pandemic began.
Terrence McConville, a senior attorney for the Secretary of State and the Department of Business Services, said these companies are “at least five months late in filing their annual reports with the state” or “out of business”. or “it could be fraud.”
Five of them disbanded in the 1990s. One of them broke up in 1987.
Some of the companies that the state considers dissolved have an active presence on social media, an indication that they may still be doing business while their records are out of order.
“At the moment, if they are disbanded, they have no authority to do business in the state,” McConville said on a phone call Wednesday afternoon.
The Illinois Treasury found that 17 of those 72 still have active accounts with the state. This is yet another sign that the companies are collecting sales taxes or withholding income taxes.
However, the tax authority confirmed that it had no record of 19 of the companies receiving grants and 33 others had closed their doors.
“If they get a business interruption grant, it’s a scam,” McConville said.
Lauren Huffman, a DCEO spokeswoman, said any company that won grant money that was later identified as “violating its agreement” could jeopardize its grant status and lead the state to seek repayment of funds.
“Even if the program is now complete, DCEO continues to review compliance issues that were brought to our attention and has taken steps to address the violations identified, including recovering funds in some cases,” she said.
State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) called the failure of the “due diligence” a “red flag” showing that the Pritzker administration was “malfunctioning.”
“These are public funds and the public expects the government to be careful when using them,” he said. “When the government does this, when they rush to put money into the community and the state, mistakes sometimes happen.”
The state no longer accepts applications for BIG funding after two rounds of funding under the CARES law have expired. However, soon after Congress approved President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the state may receive further relief for small businesses.
“DCEO closed the final round of BIG grants with the hope that federal support will allow them to reopen applications,” Governor JB Pritzker said at a December 18 press conference.
Senator Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) said, “Neither of these scholarship programs is perfect.”
“If the federal government had been a little more proactive and ready to help in a timely manner, the state of Illinois would not have been struggling with all of this,” she said on Wednesday afternoon. “I will not blame DCEO or the governor for this. I just am not. I mean, I think everyone did the best they could. And do we have to think again about how to make the next round when some of the money comes our way? We will try to correct these errors and possibly recover some of the money fraudulently received. “
“Since its inception, the program has awarded nearly 9,000 grants to small businesses in every corner of the state – focusing on businesses in some of the hardest-hit industries and regions,” said Huffman.
The Business Interruption Grant program distributed grants totaling $ 275 million. Our investigation checked approximately 4,000 of the recipients.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include the total number of grants awarded nationwide.