Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison resigns
By Carol D. Leonnig,
The head of the embattled solar company Solyndra has stepped down amid government investigations into the firm, and the Justice Department is pushing for a court-appointed trustee to take control of the company’s financial affairs.
But in court filings in its federal bankruptcy case, Solyndra argues that the resignation of CEO Brian Harrison was expected even before the FBI raided the company’s California offices and Harrison pleaded the Fifth Amendment in response to questions from Congress.
The company contends that its default on a $535 million loan from the Department of Energy should have come as no surprise to the agency, since DOE representatives sat in on its board meetings and the agency was provided with weekly updates on Solyndra’s “finances, operations and prospects.”
“At no time since the DOE loan guanartee was approved did the DOE raise any concerns about improprieties,” attorneys for Solyndra argued in an October 11 filing to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.
Solyndra said that Harrison stepped down “as contemplated” on Oct. 7, and the company’s affairs are now overseen by R.Todd Nielson, a certified public accountant hired by Solyndra to oversee the liquidation of its assets.
Harrison joined Solyndra as CEO in July, 2010, taking over from company founder Chris Gronet.
He and other Solyndra officials have been criticized for projecting a rosy financial picture for the company as late as this summer. Behind the scenes, the firm was desperately trying to raise private capital and stave off bankruptcy.
Solyndra declared bankruptcy August 31, leaving taxpayers liable for repayment of its federal loan.