Kior stock plummets as it seeks financing

Shares in Kior, the Vinod Khosla-backed operator of the first U.S. commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel plant, fell 39 percent Tuesday, their sharpest decline on record, closing at 65 cents after management told regulators it has serious doubts about staying in business.

The company needs additional capital by April 1, and its only potential source of near-term financing is a March 16 commitment letter from billionaire investor Khosla, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The commitment for as much as $25 million is contingent upon meeting certain milestones. The company shut down its Columbus, Miss., biofuel plant in January to upgrade the manufacturing process.

If the company doesn’t receive additional financing, it is “likely” to default on its debts and may file for bankruptcy. “We have substantial doubts about our ability to continue as a going concern,” the Pasadena, Tex.-based company said in the filing. Kior makes transportation fuels from wood waste and nonfood crops.

— Bloomberg News

Contractor admits
to filing false claims

A government contractor on Tuesday pleaded guilty to submitting false claims while working for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency at Fort Belvoir.

Thomas J. Cicatello, 32, of Woodbridge, Va., admitted to filing time reports claiming he worked for hundreds of hours reviewing sensitive data vital to troops in war zones when he was actually not at work.

As an analyst, his job was to review intelligence on the location of bombs known as improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The information he compiled in reports was sent to service members, “who relied on the accuracy of the information they received to make strategic decisions,” according a statement issued by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Prosecutors said he covered his absences by filing reports that said “NSTR,” or “nothing significant to report.”

He faces a maximum of five years in prison.

Aamra S. Ahmad, Cicatello’s attorney, declined to comment.

Christian Davenport

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— From news services