- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Michigan battery company funded by $151 million of taxpayer dollars is being forced to reimburse $842,000, after a federal investigation revealed employees produced no battery cells, but rather watched movies and played games.

LG Chem Michigan received $842,000 of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars from the U.S. Department of Energy, according to a report in Michigan Live. LG Chem was also granted $151 million of stimulus funds to build a battery cell manufacturing facility in Holland in 2010, according to the same report. Further, the company reportedly received favorable tax incentives — totaling more than $175 million in tax relief — from state and local governments in order to aid in the construction of the plant, according to the Detroit Free Press, which cited a Department of Energy report.

“We found that work performed under the grant to LG Chem Michigan had not been managed effectively,” said Gregory Friedman, inspector general for the DOE, according to the Detroit Free Press. “Our review revealed that LG Chem Michigan inappropriately claimed and was reimbursed for labor charges incurred by a variety of supervisory and staff employees for activities that did not benefit the project.”

So how did LG Chem spend the money?

Detroit Free Press says the company paid roughly $1.6 million for workers to volunteer at animal shelters and charity groups. On-the-clock workers also spent their time playing video games and cards, or watching movies, as production lines stood idle, according to Michigan Live.

In a statement, a company spokesman regretted the situation and said it has taken steps to ensure such mismanagement doesn’t happen again, Detroit Free Press reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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