The Small Business Administration is the federal agency that helps "little guy" businesses get loans they couldn't get through traditional lenders. Or so the story goes.
According to a 2014 federal oversight report from public research group American Transparency, taxpayer-backed SBA loans are popular with businesses serving "wealthy lifestyles."
The report, which analyzed SBA loans between 2007 and 2013, found that billions of dollars flowed to businesses that, in many cases, could obtain standard loans with standard interest rates. SBA loans offer advantageous low rates.
During that period, the SBA issued $67.23 billion in loans and guarantees to 34,677 entities.
Many of the loans, which ranged from $1 million to $5 million, went to luxury goods retailers, exclusive clubs, Fortune 100 companies, plastic surgery clinics and even private equity firms.
Found among the list of borrowers were Rolex and Lamborghini dealers, Napa Valley wineries, Sears and State Farm affiliates, Jackson Hole and Lake Tahoe resorts, and Levine Leichtman Capital Partners in Beverly Hills -- not your typical mom-and-pop shops.
Not all big-dollar SBA loans went to serve the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and the ones that did weren't necessarily unethical or illegal.