The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress on March 27, 2020. Soon thereafter a lawsuit was filed challenging the eligibility of Alaska Native corporations, like CIRI, to receive CARES Act funds.
In June 2020, a federal judge ruled that Alaska Native regional and village corporations are eligible to receive CARES Act funds. This decision was appealed, and overturned by a D.C. Circuit Court and petitions for a Writ of Certiorari were filed with the United States Supreme Court by both ARA/ANVCA as well as the Secretary of the Treasury and was granted in early January. Simply put, the case will be taken up by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2021.
As of today, CIRI and other Alaska Native regional and village corporations have not received CARES Act funds.
The amount of funding that CIRI might receive under the CARES Act is not known at this time. What is known is that the CARES Act requires that payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund only be used to cover expenses that:
- are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19);
- were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020; and
- were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020 and ends on December 30, 2020.
From the guidance received from the U.S. Treasury, it appears that dividends/distributions to shareholders are not allowed.
To the extent CIRI receives any CARES Act funding, CIRI will ensure the funds are utilized as prescribed under the Act, including working with Cook Inlet Housing Authority, Cook Inlet Tribal Council and Southcentral Foundation, where it makes sense to do so.