Solyndra executives to take the Fifth

Michael P. Tremoglie Sep. 21, 2011, 9:00am


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Solyndra's chief executive and chief financial officers will invoke their Fifth Amendment rights not to respond to questions by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommitee on Oversight and Investigations (SOI) at a hearing on Friday.

The committee is investigating the bankruptcy of the company because of a $535 million federal loan guarantee given to it by the federal government. The Obama administration is alleged to have ignored red flags and pushed for the loan to Solyndra, a financially shaky solar energy company.

Attorneys for Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison and CFO W. G. Stover said in letters to the committee, which were obtained by Reuters, that they advised their clients not to testify.

The same day that SOI chair Rep. Cliff Stearn (R-FL) was being notified that Solyndra's C-level executives were not going to testify, he sent a letter expressing his concern that the Department of Energy (DOE) would be unable to provide due diligence in other guaranteed loan commitments that must be closed by the end of this month - in light of the Solyndra scandal.

Rep. Stearns' letter was co-signed by Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Chairman of the Committee's Energy and Power Subcommittee. The letter to DOE Secretary Steven Chu said, "Now that Solyndra has declared bankruptcy, we cannot help but wonder whether additional time to review this guarantee might have prevented the taxpayers from being on the hook for the $535 million loaned to the company."

Stearns commented that DOE has 14 conditional commitments totaling $8.89 billion outstanding. He requested that DOE staff inform his staff of the financial condition of the 14 companies.

"DOE must approve nearly $9 billion in conditional loan guarantees -- about half the cost of the entire program -- and the administration plans to get it all out the door in 10 days," he wrote. "If the administration was so wrong about Solyndra after what DOE and OMB officials claim were at least nine months of due diligence, how can these agencies possibly exercise the proper controls when trying to rush out nearly $9 billion before the September 30th deadline."

He also requested copies of the most recent audited financial statements for the companies that have received loan guarantees and copies of the monitoring reports for those companies "whose loan guarantees have been finalized."

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