Bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra LLC defended its reorganization plan Monday against mounting criticism from the federal government, while launching a legal offensive against Chinese solar companies over what it deems unfair trade practices.
Responding to complaints from the Internal Revenue Service that the company's reorganization is little more than a tax avoidance scheme, Solyndra said the primary purpose of its bankruptcy exit plan actually was to maximize value for creditors.
"The IRS has no evidence that the principal purpose of the plan is tax avoidance," company attorneys argued in documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware on Monday.
Under Solyndra's reorganization plan, two big investors, Madrone Partners LP and Argonaut Ventures, together would own nearly all of a shell company formed in the wake of Solyndra's bankruptcy reorganization.
But in arguing against the reorganization plan, the IRS said in court papers filed last week the shell entity had been formed to help owners use Solyndra's net operating losses to offset future tax liabilities. The owners "planned meticulously" about the "tax attributes" as far back as 2010, according to the IRS.
Argonaut is the investment arm of a family foundation headed by Oklahoma businessman George Kaiser, a fundraiser for President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Madrone has ties to the family that owns Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Solyndra attorneys in Monday's court filing argued that just because owners may have estimated the value of the tax attributes doesn't prove that the reorganization plan's primary intent is to avoid paying taxes.
Indeed, Solyndra attorneys also said the newly formed company wouldn't be a dormant shell entity but rather could be used to acquire businesses, while taking advantage of Solyndra's net operating losses.
"There is nothing wrong with that approach " company attorneys wrote.
In a separate legal development as the nearly year-old bankruptcy grinds to a close, Solyndra also filed a lawsuit in federal court in California against three Chinese solar companies, accusing them of predatory pricing and other tactics.
Seeking $1.5 billion in damages, Solyndra attorneys argued that the Chinese companies used capital raised from Americans to destroy U.S. solar companies by flooding the market with products at below-cost prices.
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