TAMPA (FOX 13) - SBA loans are supposed to help mom-and-pop businesses grow. The taxpayer-backed loans offer reduced rates for companies that may have trouble getting traditional loans. But the watchdog groups OpenTheBooks.com and American Transparency tracked these SBA loans flowing into large successful companies and organizations that cater to the rich.
OpenTheBooks.com founder Adam Andrzejewski said taxpayers are, in effect, subsidizing major companies and wealthy lifestyles across the nation. The records he cites cover SBA lending from 2007 to 2013.
"There was $124-million that flowed into ZIP code 90210. That's Beverly Hills, California," said Andrzejewski. "It was a Bentley auto dealership, Botox beauty clinic, it was $4-million to their exclusive diamond brokerage."
While many of those guaranteed loans helped companies across the nation succeed, some burned taxpayers when the recipients' business ventures failed.
"$1.5-million flowed into a Lamborghini dealership. That was a reduced rate. Taxpayers had the risk on that loan. And then the Lamborghini dealership went out of business, and the loan was charged off," Andrzejewski continued. "The loan wasn't paid, and taxpayers were left holding the bag."
He says his research team found $27-billion in other charge-offs in the seven years of records he examined.
Meanwhile, much of the successful SBA reduced-rate lending benefitted divisions of large successful companies. Since 2007, 10 Fortune 100 companies and their affiliates obtained more than $250-million in taxpayer-backed loans.
"If there have been wrong decisions made by the SBA, we will get to the bottom of it and it is the responsibility of Congress to do so," pledged U.S. Rep. David Jolly.
Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis also said he was troubled by some of the lending decisions by the SBA.
"Before you look at welfare for the poor, you need to look at corporate welfare and eliminate things like that where taxpayers are being put on the hook to divert money to companies and individuals that are very well off and can afford it themselves," offered DeSantis.