Two more New Jersey companies said they returned money received under a federal small business loan program meant to offer a lifeline to businesses that have seen their revenues dry up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That brings the total number to at least four separate companies in the state, out of the more than $35 million awarded to 13 separate New Jersey-based publicly-traded companies, according to public filings from the Securities and Exchange Commission and compiled by Washington, D.C.-based analytics firm FactsSquared.
The Paycheck Protection Program, run through the U.S. Small Business Administration, has fallen under scrutiny from government officials, media outlets and watchdog groups over whether the federal aid money went to well-financed companies that did not need it, rather than struggling Main Street, mom-and-pop shops.
For the second round of $310 billion, the SBA said Monday it has so far awarded $7.4 billion of PPP loans to 77,364 separate New Jersey businesses.
For the first round, the SBA said that 33,519 New Jersey businesses were awarded a total of $9.5 billion out of the $349 billion round of funding, averaging $150,000 per loan.
Monmouth Junction-based immunotherapy research and development firm Cytosorbents Corp. paid back its $1.4 million loan and Ramsey-based pharmaceutical company ADMA Biologics paid back its $5.4 million PPP loan.
“We applied for this loan when the program was first announced and at that time there was a lot of uncertainty about how our business would be impacted by COVID-19,” said Kathy Bloch, CytoSorbents’s chief financial officer.
“[M]ore recently we have determined that our financial and operating position are stable, and we believe the PPP funds should be deployed to small businesses in greater need of support during this difficult time.”
ADMA did not return several requests for comment.
Newark-based IDT Domestic Telecom, which was initially awarded a $10 million loan, and Warren-based pharmaceutical company Aquestive Therapeutics, which got a $4.8 million PPP loan, both fully repaid the amounts.
Businesses who received a loan over $2 million will be audited by the federal government to verify that they actually need the money before the loan can be forgiven.
“[A]anyone that took the money that shouldn’t have taken the money, one it won’t be forgiven, and two, they may be subject to criminal liability, which is a big deal,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a recent interview with Fox News.