SAN FRANCISCO—The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executed a search warrant Thursday (Sept. 8) at the Fremont, Calif., headquarters of Solyndra Inc., the solar cell manufacturer that announced last week it was shutting down operations and filing for bankruptcy, according to reports.
FBI agents, joined by officials from the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Office of the Inspector General, began executing the search warrant at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, according to a report by the San Jose Mercury News. An FBI spokesperson declined to divulge the reason for the search, according to the report.
The bankruptcy filing of Solyndra raised eyebrows, partly because the firm had received a $535 million federal loan guarantee to build manufacturing facilities in Fremont.
In a statement issued Thursday, Cliff Stearns, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, said a six-month investigation into the Solyndra loan guarantee had been expanded last week. The committee is now seeking additional documents and information from the White House regarding Solyndra, according to the statement.
Stearns is pushing for a halt of loan guarantees by the Dept. of Energy. Of the $18 billion in loan guarantees for which U.S. government stimulus funding is available, just over $8 billion worth of guarantees have been finalized, according to the statement. The Dept. of Energy has conditionally committed to an additional 16 projects totaling over $10 billion in guaranteed loans, but the guarantees have yet to be finalized, according to the statement. The deadline to finalize loan guarantees under the stimulus plan is Sept. 30.
The Oversight and Investigations subcommittee plans a hearing on the Solyndra loan guarantee next week.
According to the Mercury News report, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in Delaware Tuesday and said it plans to seek a buyer. The report referenced an earlier story by the Bloomberg news service, which said that Solyndra may have two bidders for its Fremont plant but that the Dept. of Energy is concerned that a buyer might buy the firm's equipment and move it out of the U.S.
According to Stearns, the Dept. of Energy was forced to restructure Solyndra's loan guarantee in February because the company was having financial problems.
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