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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 22:39 GMT 23:39 UK
Rich firms 'got 9/11 fund millions'
Demolished site of the Twin Towers
Both lives and livelihoods were destroyed in the attacks
More than a third of the fund aimed at helping small businesses located near the World Trade Center survive its destruction in the 11 September attacks went to rich firms, the New York Times says.

The $539m World Trade Center Business Recovery Grant was meant to provide an emergency lifeline for restaurants and retailers in Lower Manhattan.

But, according to the New York Times, $144m - about 27% of the money - went to wealthy investment firms and financial traders.

Another $50m was given to law firms - few of which faced dire threats about their future, the paper says.

Far smaller amounts went to small businesses that were dependent on the foot traffic that largely disappeared after the attack, the report adds.

The 669 small businesses that were located in the World Trade Center itself, for instance, received $38m.

The New York Times makes clear inconsistencies in the funding were not fraudulent.

Rather, they were the unintended result of rules that were drawn up to get both large and small businesses back on their feet as quickly as possible.


The grants did help many small businesses stay open.

Funeral for Michael Ragusa
Ragusa was the last firefighter to be laid to rest
Arthur Gregory, owner of the A&M Roadhouse a restaurant near the trade center site, told the paper the $33,726 he received "helped keep me open because the insurance companies were real bad, real slow".

However the hastily written rules led to inconsistent and unequal disbursements, according to the New York Times.

It says small stores that are steps from one another and that suffered the same damage and similar declines in business received grants of vastly different size.

Meanwhile, as the second anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks approaches, a service has been held for the last of the 343 New York firefighters who died on 11 September.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, his predecessor Rudolph Giuliani on Monday joined friends and family in paying tribute to Michael Ragusa.

His remains were never identified, but his family recently found that he had donated blood to a bone marrow center and recovered some to use for burial.

"Today we can finally put Michael to rest because he became a blood marrow donor," his mother said at the funeral.

The BBC's Juliet Dunlop
"Traders and brokers were among the biggest recipients of handouts"

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