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Federal grand jury is investigating Solyndra, court records show

Solyndra, a California solar panel maker whose funding included $535 million in federal loan guarantees, makes several references to a grand jury inquiry in its U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing.

December 14, 2011|By George Avalos

Reporting from Oakland — A federal grand jury has launched an inquiry into Solyndra, according to court records, an indication that scrutiny of the bankrupt solar panel maker has intensified.

The existence of the grand jury investigation was disclosed in papers filed as part of Solyndra's bankruptcy petition, which followed the company's abrupt closure and dismissal of 1,100 employees in August.

By the time the Fremont, Calif., maker of tubular solar panels filed for bankruptcy in September, it had received $535 million in federal loan guarantees and $1.1 billion in venture capital funding.

K&L Gates, a law firm, filed a detailed account of its activities on behalf of Solyndra with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, court records show.

References to the grand jury investigation begin with an entry dated Oct. 9, when K&L Gates lawyers began reviewing a subpoena from the grand jury. The last reference was to a telephone conference Nov. 19 with the U.S. attorney's office.

At least seven references to a grand jury investigation are contained in the documents, which were filed Friday with the Bankruptcy Court.

The grand jury also subpoenaed a firm named R.W. Beck. The Department of Energy in September 2008 hired R.W. Beck to undertake an independent engineering report and marketing study about Solyndra's technology.

The bankruptcy filing listed $783.8 million in debts and $859 million in assets.

Avalos writes for the Oakland Tribune/McClatchy.

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