'They shouldn't have taken it': Trump says he will force Harvard and big companies to give back emergency coronavirus funding

Danielle Zoellner
·2-min read
Getty Images
Getty Images

President Donald Trump has announced he will force Harvard University and other big businesses to return emergency coronavirus funding that was intended for smaller companies.

Controversy surrounded the Paychecks Protection Programme (PPE) after it was discovered big businesses like Harvard University and Shake Shack applied for and received emergency funding. The university, which has a multi-billion dollar endowment, received nearly $9m from the PPP.

“Harvard’s going to pay back the money,” Mr Trump said during his press briefing on Tuesday. “They shouldn’t have taken it.”

“I’m not going to mention any other names, but when I saw Harvard, they have one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, in the world, I guess. And they’re going to pay back that money,” he added.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin clarified there was some confusion among big businesses on if they qualified for funding in the PPP or not. The federal government would give big businesses time to repay the funding, but they could face consequences if they don’t.

“Certain people under PPP may not have been clear in understanding the certification, so we’re going to give people the benefit of the doubt,” Mr Mnuchin said. “If you pay back the loan right away, you won’t have liability to the SBA (Small Business Administration) and to Treasury, but there are severe consequences who don’t attest properly to the certification.”

He provided no clarification on what consequences big businesses could face.

“We want to make sure this money is available to small businesses that need it, people who have invested their entire life savings,” Mr Mnuchin added.

Shake Shack returned its $10m PPP loan after learning their business did not qualify for the funding.

Questions as to what businesses would actually qualify for a PPP loan came after the Senate passed an emergency stimulus package that would add an additional $310bn in funding for PPP. People were concerned more large businesses would pull from the fund over small companies.

Mr Mnuchin said the FAQs document about the loans would clarify what businesses qualify.

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