The financial relief programs enacted by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act stand ready to provide crucial financial support to people and businesses impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the resulting economic downturn. These new federal programs recognize the scale of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak.
While decisions made by companies seeking CARES Act or similar relief may not be scrutinized today, we are likely to see a wave of COVD-19-related criminal and civil enforcement actions in the coming months and years. Impacted individuals and businesses should remember that the urgent need for relief does not eliminate the importance of compliance or the likelihood of significant regulatory oversight in the future.
More specifically, applicants for CARES Act relief must certify or attest to certain facts relevant to their eligibility to participate in the CARES Act’s various programs. Because false certifications or attestations potentially expose an applicant to liability under the federal False Claims Act (FCA), it is critical that impacted individuals and entities take reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of information and certifications contained in any applications for federal aid.