Solyndra Founder Christian Gronet Likely to Avoid Criminal Charges
Christian Gronet, founder of bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra, will likely be able to avoid criminal charges, even if charges are brought against other former executives.
In 2011 Solyndra filed for bankruptcy protection after receiving $528 million in federal loans – triggering a criminal probe into what Solyndra had told federal authorities during the loan application process, as well as setting off intense criticism from Republican lawmakers who had opposed the Obama Administration’s efforts to support the green energy sector.
Solyndrahad pioneered a type of cylindrical solar panel – quickly becoming a high-profile player in the fast-growing industry of solar electricity. By 2009 revenue hit $100 million. The government loan was approved that year.
According to emails released by Republican lawmakers who were investigating the company, the company’s venture backers had grown unhappy with how Solyndra was handling the deteriorating solar panel market.
Gronet stepped down from his chief executive post soon after Obama’s 2010 visit. And on Sept 6, 2011 the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy,just as it and other solar panel companies were reeling from downed solar panel prices as a result of cheap imports from China.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation soon launched a probe into whether Solyndra executives had fully disclosed the company’s business situation when it applied for the government loan.
Though the criminal probe is getting closer to conclusion, no final decisions have been made to bring charges against certain executives. These charges would be related to statements made by the executives to the U.S. Department of Energy during the loan process. Making false statements to the U.S. government is a crime that generally carries up to five years in prison.
A Blow to the Obama Administration
The company’s collapse was a major blow to the Obama Administration’s energy policy, with the Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee ultimately concluding that the Department of Energy had rushed into the deal and ignored warnings to cut its losses.
Meanwhile, the White House called the decision to make the Solyndra loan “merit-based” and criticized Congressional Republicans for investigating the issue.
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Source: Huff Post, Solyndra Founder Christian Gronet Will Likely Avoid Criminal Charges: Sources, July 11, 2013