A chain of luxury restaurants and boutique hotels co-owned by actor Robert de Niro has received at least 14 loans through the taxpayer-funded Paycheck Protection Program, according to government documents released Monday.
The aid, part of the federal government’s $670 billion effort to stem the economic pain of coronavirus pandemic and aid small enterprises avoid mass layoffs, was worth at least $11.4 million and up to $27.7 million, the Data shows. The chain received relief for properties across the country, from Malibu, Calif., to New York.
De Niro, who is worth an estimated $500 millionco-founded the chic Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant in 1994. Along with his co-founders – celebrity chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa and film producer and entrepreneur Meir Teper – the actor owns 46 restaurants and 13 luxury hotels around the world. Nobu Hospitality, the name of their lifestyle brand, was founded in 2009.
The disclosure was part of a larger statement from the Small Business Administration, which for the first time released the names of businesses and nonprofits that received forgivable loans worth more than $150. 000 under the $670 billion program. The agency did not disclose the precise dollar amounts of the loans and instead provided a range for each loan, making it impossible to know the exact amount Nobu received.
The loans were processed by the New York Business Development Corporation.
The band appear to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of coronavirus relief. Nobu did not immediately respond to a request for comment from FOX Business.
At first, the program was heavily criticized for giving aid to publicly traded companies that had other avenues of relief, even as small businesses languished. But the SBA and the Treasury Department, which jointly administer the program, scrambled to close loopholes which allowed multimillion-dollar companies to tap into the fund, including committing to audit any loan worth more than $2 million.
In updated guidance at the end of April, the agencies said it was “unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets would be able to certify. required in good faith, and such a company should be prepared to demonstrate to SBA, upon request, the basis of its certification.”
The companies returned $30 billion in relief to the government after scrutiny over who was worthy of tapping into the bailout fund. Borrowers who rendered aid included high-profile chains like Shake Shack, Potbelly’s and Ruth’s Hospitality Group, owner of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
Yet the data revealed that other major companies applied for, received and retained multimillion-dollar loans, including restaurant groups Five Guys, PF Chang’s and TGI Friday’s, all of which received aid worth between 5 and 10 million dollars.
As of June 30, the program had issued nearly 4.9 million loans worth some $521.4 billion, leaving more than $131.9 billion unspent, according to the SBA. The program reopened Monday at 9 a.m. ET and will accept applications until August 8.
The federal government will cancel the loans if the companies agree to maintain their payrolls. Monday’s release showed the program supported 51 million jobs.