U.S. seeks trustee to oversee Solyndra

Citing the refusal of executives at solar panel maker Solyndra to testify before Congress, a Justice Department office wants a judge to appoint independent trustee to oversee the company in bankruptcy or else force it into liquidation.

The U.S. Trustee, a Justice Department office that oversees the administration of bankruptcy cases, filed court papers Friday arguing for a trustee in the case in part because company officials have refused to say whether financial information submitted to investors, creditors and others was accurate.

Solydra file for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 6, about two years after it won more than a half billion dollars in federal loan guarantees from the Department of Energy. The FBI raided the company days after Solyndra’s bankruptcy.

Typically, trustees are appointed when there are concerns about mismanagement fraud within a company in bankruptcy.

Still, the U.S. Trustee’s office added that it is not alleging wrongdoing by the company, but that corporate officials’ refusal to answer questions about Solyndra and its finances are “incompatible with the duty of a fiduciary to act in the best interests of the estate and creditors.”

The move comes a week after Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. for an outside lawyer to investigate Solyndra’s bankruptcy case.

The company’s top two executives appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week, but they declined to answer any questions and invoked their rights under the Fifth Amendment, citing legal advice.

If a trustee is not appointed, the Trustee’s Office said Solyndra should be forced into a Chapter 7 liquidation.

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