Several bankrupt cryptocurrency firms, including Alameda Research, Blockfolio, Celsius, and Voyager, previously received Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans through the pandemic-era program.
The Payroll Protection Program was a pandemic-era business stimulus program that offered loans to businesses that maintained employment of its employees through the beginning of the pandemic; these loans could then be forgiven. The program was plagued by fraud, with the Small Business Administration inspector general identifying $78.1 billion in potentially fraudulent loans.
Sam Bankman-Fried’s failed trading firm, Alameda Research, received a $370,518 loan from Signature Bank and successfully paid back the loan. Bankman-Fried was subsequently convicted of multiple felony counts related to fraud conducted at Alameda Research.
Blockfolio, a firm that would end up as part of the Bankman-Fried wreckage, also received a PPP loan of $458,211 from Wells Fargo. The loan was forgiven.
Cryptocurrency lenders also received PPP loans. Celsius Networks received a $281,502 loan from Signature Bank that was also waved away. Alex Mashinsky, the former chief of Celsius, has been charged with multiple counts of fraud related to Celsius. Voyager Digital received a $619,400 PPP loan from Dime Community Bank, but unlike Celsius, its loan was repaid.
PPP loans were an entirely legal program, and there is no evidence (beyond criminal prosecutions directed at executives at several of these firms) to suggest that there was anything untoward in the process of receiving these loans.