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Nobu eating places supported by De Niro took out greater than a dozen PPP loans

Robert De Niro (L) and chef Nobu Matsuhisa appear during a preview for the Nobu Restaurant and Lounge Caesars Palace on February 2, 2013 in Las Vegas.

David Becker | Getty Images

The Nobu group of luxury sushi restaurants and hotels has borrowed 14 loans from the U.S. Small Business Support Program for up to $ 28 million, according to government records.

The chain, founded by actor Robert De Niro, celebrity chef Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa, and film producer Meir Teper, has received funding for properties scattered across the country, from California to Texas and New York, according to information released on Monday .

Restaurants have been among the largest beneficiaries of the paycheck protection program, a key component of the government's response to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The news that large, well-funded chains such as Shake Shack and Ruth & # 39; s Hospitality Group had originally received loans caused a sensation in April, prompting the administration to warn companies to qualify for the program.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in particular said the program was not intended for companies that could reasonably tap other forms of capital, from equity markets to bank credit lines.

The Nobu Group appears to be one of the program's major beneficiaries, receiving at least $ 11 million and even $ 28 million. The information specifies a range for the loan sizes, which makes precise billing impossible. The New York Business Development Corporation was listed as the bank that processed the loans.

Emails to Nobu representatives were not returned immediately.

The data release, which revealed the breadth of the $ 660 billion PPP effort, came after Mnuchin initially refused to disclose recipient requests in the program and said the information was "proprietary." Efforts have attracted attention since the beginning of April, first for technical problems in the midst of an insane struggle for access, and later when it turned out that large companies had used the emergency aid.

The administration finally gave in, saying it would disclose the identity of companies that had received at least $ 150,000 for the program. While these larger loans make up the majority of the program's total dollar, more than 85% of loan participants demanded less than $ 150,000, effectively protecting these companies from auditing.

Other multi-million dollar loan recipients were chain franchisees, including P.F. Hamburgers from Chang & # 39; s and Five Guys. Australia-inspired coffee shop Bluestone Lane received a $ 5 to $ 10 million loan.

McDonald & # 39; s and Wendy & # 39; s franchisees appeared across the list and in some cases secured loans north of $ 150,000. The Southern California Pizza Company, which operates 224 Pizza Hut locations on the west coast, received $ 5 to 10 million, although it was privately held in 2012.

Corporations returned more than $ 30 billion in loans after Mnuchin accused organizations like the Los Angeles Lakers of using the program. The government also withholds the identity of companies that have returned funds.

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