Pitch Based on Saving American Jobs, But Filings Show Active Consideration of Liquidation
The trade complaint case brought by Suniva, Inc., and SolarWorld was been pushed in front of the U.S. International Trade Commission on the theme of saving American solar jobs. But billing records from the lawyers working for the hedge funds that own the failed companies show there has been active consideration to discuss permanent bankruptcy – form which there would be no re-employing any American.
Earlier this year, the New York hedge fund, SQN Capital Management, had demanded it be paid $55 million or else it would use an obscure trade rule to file a highly damaging trade case against. The case threatens the jobs of an estimated 88,000 U.S. solar jobs, but it has been pushed on the idea that a strong “remedy” recommendation from the ITC could lead to re-employing Americans.
SQN Capital Management provided $4 million to underwrite a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of Suniva, after the solar company had laid off 131 employees and closed a Michigan module plant in April 2017.
In a letter to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export, SQN estimated the value of Suniva’s equipment to be worth “at least $USD55 million.”
Today, the International Trade Commission proposed how domestic solar cell and panel manufacturers should be protected by imports. President Trump will then decide whether to impose a tariff or quota on imported solar equipment.
But the billing sheets filed by the lawyers working for SQN Capital show meetings and discussions to move (or “convert”) from Ch. 11 to Ch. 7 bankruptcy, from there is no re-emergence. Ch.7 bankruptcy would end any possibility that the companies could re-employ Americans.
On October 26, 2017, Checks and Balances Project sent a letter to SQN Capital CEO and President Jeremiah J. Silkowski that asked him to clarify the law firm records by answering these questions:
- What is the status of consideration for permanent Chapter 7 bankruptcy for Suniva Inc.?
- What assurance can you give ITC and the public that provided your remedy, you will not file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and eliminate American jobs?
- Apart from these billing statements and your letter, did you at any time inform the commission that was considering rescuing your company that permanently dissolving Suniva Inc. was under active consideration?
You can read the entire letter by clicking here.
Despite two follow-up calls, we have yet to receive a response from Mr. Silkowski or anyone at SQN Capital Management.
Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, a watchdog blog that seeks to hold government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP comes from sustainable economy philanthropies and donors.