Small business lender settles False Claims Act allegations for $6 million

by Ben Vernia | August 31st, 2015

On August 28, the Department of Justice announced that EDF Resources Capital, Inc., and its CEO have agreed to pay a total of $6 million to settle civil charges that the company maintained inadequate loss reserves for a Small Business Administration lending program, in violation of the False Claims Act. According to DOJ’s press release:

EDF Resource Capital Inc. and its CEO, Frank Dinsmore, have agreed to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act and otherwise failed to remit payments owed to the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the 504 loan program, the Department of Justice announced today.  Under the settlement agreement, EDF and Dinsmore have agreed to make payments and turn over certain assets to the United States for a total settlement of approximately $6 million.

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The SBA 504 loan program provides growing businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets, such as land and buildings.  Under the program, local lenders like EDF are responsible for arranging, servicing and collecting on these small business loans, which are guaranteed, in part, by the SBA.  In return for the authority to make determinations on 504 loans without prior SBA approval, EDF was required to bear a share of any losses suffered by the SBA on such loans and to maintain a loan loss reserve fund (LLRF) to help ensure payment of its loss-sharing obligations.

Today’s settlement resolves claims that EDF and Dinsmore violated the False Claims Act in connection with EDF’s failure to maintain adequate reserves in its LLRF.  EDF allegedly was required to fund its LLRF at a level determined by the riskiness of its 504 loan program portfolio yet knowingly concealed from the SBA hundreds of troubled loans to avoid its obligation to fully fund its LLRF.

The settlement also resolves a lawsuit filed by the United States against EDF and a related entity, Redemption Reliance LLC, alleging that EDF failed to remit required payments to the SBA to satisfy its loss-sharing obligations.  The lawsuit also alleges that the SBA agreed to advance funds to EDF in connection with certain defaulted 504 loans but that, after EDF assigned the loan documents for these loans to Redemption Reliance, neither EDF nor Redemption Reliance remitted the monies owed on these loans to the SBA.

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The case was apparently started as a government investigation, and not a whistleblower, or qui tam, suit.


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