Coral Springs Resident Sentenced to 51 Months for Embezzlement Scheme Against Former Employer and Submission of Fraudulent CARES Act Loan Application
MIAMI – Pan African Interchange LLC and Stanley Damas have agreed to pay $21,583.31 to resolve False Claims Act allegations arising from their false certifications that Pan African Interchange LLC would not receive more than one Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan prior to December 31, 2020, announced U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized the issuance of PPP loans to eligible small businesses struggling to pay employees and other business expenses during the pandemic. Under the PPP, in 2020, eligible businesses could obtain one SBA guaranteed PPP loan. Businesses were required to spend loan proceeds for employee compensation, rent or mortgage, and other specified expenses and, depending on their use of the loan proceeds, could qualify for loan forgiveness up to the full amount of the loan if certain requirements were met.
The SBA delegated authority to third-party lenders to underwrite and approve the PPP loans. To obtain a PPP loan, a qualifying business (through its authorized representative) signed and submitted a PPP loan application online through the lender’s application platform. The PPP loan application required the business (through its authorized representative) to acknowledge the PPP program rules and make certain affirmative certifications in order to be eligible to obtain the loan. Borrowers were required to certify as true and accurate that the applicant had not and would not receive more than one loan under the PPP prior to December 31, 2020. A similar certification was required if a borrower applied for loan forgiveness.
On April 14, 2022, the United States intervened in, and on May 20, 2022, filed its Complaint in Intervention against Pan African Interchange LLC and its owner, Stanley Damas, in a whistleblower case filed against Pan African Interchange LLC pursuant to the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. This case is the first PPP False Claims Act whistleblower case in which the United States intervened. The United States alleged that after applying for a PPP loan on May 20, 2020, Pan African Interchange LLC, through Stanley Damas, applied for a second PPP loan on May 21, 2020, and having received a PPP loan on May 22, 2020 from its first application, falsely certified that Pan African Interchange had not and would not receive more than one loan prior to December 31, 2020, when on June 12, 2020, Pan African Interchange, LLC signed a promissory note for a second PPP loan that it received on June 24, 2020. The United States further charged in its Complaint in Intervention that, despite numerous demands, and in violation of the PPP rules and the FCA, Pan African Interchange LLC and Damas unlawfully refused to return the second PPP Loan.
After the United States filed and served its Complaint in Intervention, Damas and Pan African Interchange LLC paid back to the United States, $208,332.00 to satisfy the second Pan African Interchange PPP Loan. However, in the settlement announced today, Pan African Interchange LLC and Damas agreed to pay an additional $21,583.31.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James A. Weinkle handled the matter, and Department of Justice Civil Division Trial Attorney Jared Wiesner and the SBA’s Office of Litigation assisted.
The qui tam action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida captioned United States of America ex rel. Bryan Quesenberry v. Pan African Interchange, LLC, et al., Case No. 9:20-cv-81717-DMM (S.D. Fla).
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.
Public Affairs Unit
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida