A Mississippi man is accused of spending PPP loan money on a $100,000 Tesla and a million-dollar house – Business Insider

  • A man accused of spending PPP small-business loan money on a $100,000 Tesla and a house was arrested Thursday.
  • Christopher Paul Lick is charged with wire fraud and money laundering, according to the DoJ. He has pleaded not guilty.
  • PPP loans were designed to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Mississippi man was arrested on Thursday, accused of spending COVID-19 small business loans on a variety of luxury items, including a $100,000 Tesla and a $1 million home, federal prosecutors said.

Christopher Paul Lick, of Starkville, got $6 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds by filing false and fraudulent loan applications with banks, according to court documents cited in a news release by the US Attorney’s Office of Northern Mississippi on Friday.

Lick lied about the number of people his businesses employed, and his expenses, the documents said.

As well as the Tesla and million-dollar home, Lick invested some of the money in the stock market, the documents said.

He had been indicted by a federal grand jury before his arrest, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said.

The 45-year-old is charged with four counts of wire fraud, one count of false statements to a financial institution, and eleven counts of money laundering, according to the DoJ. He faces up to 30 years in federal prison if he’s convicted.

On Saturday, Lick pleaded not guilty to the 16 counts.

PPP loans were designed to help small businesses pay their staff, rent, and mortgage costs to help keep them afloat during the pandemic. Insider previously reported that the majority of borrowers can receive up to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll costs, but that loans can’t exceed $2 million. 

The White House initially launched the program in April 2020, but the $349 billion funding ran out in two weeks. Congress approved another $320 billion in May, and the program stopped in August with around $130 billion in unused funds.

The program was then relaunched in January with $284 billion in funding.