Watchdog Calls on Company to Return $31.4M in Aid Following ‘Solid Quarter’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A hydrocarbon product company currently stands at the top of the heap of the more than 400 publicly-traded companies that have so far received loans under the Trump Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. On May 1st Calumet Specialty Products Partners, LP – which reports a workforce of 1,500 and executive compensation package totaling $4.6 million — received $31.4 million in forgivable PPP aid, which is $13 million more than any other large company that has yet to return their loan.

While asking for a forgivable PPP loan of that magnitude might suggest the company is experiencing serious ‘financial issues’, just six days after accepting it, Calumet CEO Steve Mawer held an earnings call and presented a far rosier picture.

Mawer noted that the declaration of their services as “essential” meant operations were maintained for customers and stakeholders and boasted of a “solid quarter” in Q1, and $83.7 million in EBITDA. The CEO even cited the company’s strong reserves of cash and available credit, noting “over $326 million of available liquidity between our cash on hand” and credit availability.

“The PPP was billed as a program to help small businesses weather the financial fallout of the pandemic, not help pad the bottom lines of already profitable businesses,” said Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Accountable.US. “We congratulate Calumet on their ‘solid quarter’ and call on them to return their federal grant money so it can go to a small business that is actually in need.”

In its SEC filings announcing the PPP loan, the company acknowledges federal statements about the appropriateness of large, public companies receiving funding. The company says it had made a “good faith” certification that the loans were appropriate, as PPP funds were necessary for the company to support operations in the current economic environment. Some portions of the filing acknowledge issues: at one point, the company indicated the applications “could in the future be determined to have been impermissible,” and stated concerns of criminal penalties. Despite these concerns, at no point does Calumet indicate they will be returning the money. In fact, being “required to repay the PPP loans in its entirety” [sic] was listed as a potential consequence alongside criminal penalties.

These SEC records were examined as part of an ongoing tracking project by government watchdog Accountable.US Action. documents the billion-dollar corporations and other large companies that have received taxpayer assistance under the CARES Act, and what advantages and assets they had going into the CODID-19 crisis that most small businesses could never access.

BACKGROUND: The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program has been plagued with reports of legitimate small businesses unable to access the help the President claimed would come in “record time”. They have faced a bureaucratic maze often ending in delays and rejection as banks reportedly prioritized those “with the best relationships — not the neediest or most deserving.” A recent survey of small businesses found only 13% of the 45% who applied for a PPP loan were ever approved. Meanwhile, CEOs of large companies have managed to coast through the process. Well over 400 publicly-traded firms or conflicted companies, some worth more than $100 million, have received over a billion dollars in taxpayer money. It’s no wonder the Trump administration has shied away from transparency in this process.


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