04.08.2021

Church of Scientology as small businesses go bust

Yeezy, which made $1.3 billion (£1.52b) in 2019, said to the SBA that the loan would save 160 workers from unemployment, according to NBC News analysis.

Three Church of Scientology locations in New York, Washington DC and Florida were also cleared to receive loans between $150,000 (£120,000) and $350,000 (£278,000) each.

US Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in March to secure small loans for businesses and nonprofits with less than 500 workers amid Covid-19 shutdowns.

That coronavirus bill set-aside more than $320 billion (£256b) in government money to assist small businesses who were expected to struggle amid the pandemic.

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Kanye West’s clothing line and the Church of Scientology were among billion-dollar brands who used US government loans designed to help businesses survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) said on Monday that the billionaire rapper’s Yeezy brand had been cleared to receive $5 million (£4m) under the government’s small-business loan program.

Almost three months on, the SBA list published on Monday shows that Mr West and other billionaires used the PPP to receive loans.

“PPP was sold to the American people as a program to help Mom-and-Pop shops keep their lights on during the pandemic,” said Accountable.US watchdog president Kyle Herrig to NBC News. “The reality is that the Trump administration created a program that helped the well connected cut to the front of the line to get these loans.”

PPP applicants also included multimillionaire pop artist Jeff Koons, Hollywood producer Francis Ford Coppola, Hamptons property developer Joe Farrell and the Church of Scientology, which is reported to be worth at least $1 billion (£802m).

Those businesses needed to prove in their application that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant”.

Applicants were also asked to ensure that the loan was used to retain workers, maintain payroll and make essential payments.

Treasury secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said on Monday that more than 80 per cent of small business employees had benefited from PPP loans.

He added: “We are particularly pleased that 27 per cent of the program’s reach in low and moderate income communities which is in proportion to percentage of population in these areas.”

The SBA announcement comes as Mr West was mocked over his last minute bid to enter the 2020 presidential race.

He tweeted: “We must now realise the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States.”

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