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SBA defends 9/11 loans

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Facing a congressional inquiry, the Small Business Administration said Tuesday it believes it followed the law during its nearly $5 billion lending effort to help small companies recover from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

To make its case, the agency distributed one audit that praised some of its work while omitting a second report by the same congressional auditing agency that criticized the SBA’s post-Sept. 11 relief work.

The SBA was responding to an Associated Press story last week that found numerous loans went to small businesses that neither knew they were getting – nor wanted – loans designed for economic victims of the terrorist attacks.

The AP reported that companies hundreds of miles from the devastation of ground zero – from a Utah motorcycle dealer to an Ohio Subway sandwich shop – had received SBA-backed loans without being aware they had been drawn from the Sept. 11 relief programs.

“After 9/11, the SBA was doing all it could to help small businesses, not only in the areas directly affected by the terrorist attacks, but across the country as well,” SBA chief Hector Barreto said. “We are confident the SBA implemented the program in the way Congress intended and did so in an open and above-board manner.”

Barreto described the AP report as “sensational and distorted,” without citing any specifics.

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