Justice Asks for More on Solyndra; Legal Fee Move Prompts Query

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 29, 2012 | Go to article overview

Justice Asks for More on Solyndra; Legal Fee Move Prompts Query


Byline: Jim McElhatton, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Justice Department probe into the collapse of solar panel maker Solyndra LLC after the company received a half-billion dollars in federal loan guarantees has prompted requests by government lawyers investigating the company for closing documents and invoices, according to newly filed court records.

The requests came to light after the law firm, K&L Gates, withdrew a pending fee application with the U.S. Bankruptcy in Delaware detailing nearly a half-million dollars in legal work it has provided Solyndra during the past year.

The Washington Times reported last week that lawyers had failed to include an accounting for months of legal work for the solar company in an application asking a bankruptcy judge to get paid.

The firm did not respond to requests by The Times for comment, but filed a new fee application this week containing an updated billing statement, along with an hour-by-hour accounting of how attorneys have been spending their time.

Those legal papers are significant because they reveal that the Justice Department over the summer sought closing documents and invoices as part of its investigation into Solyndra, nearly a year after the FBI raided its headquarters. The latest records also contain dozens of references to calls, meetings or requests involving the government attorneys.

One charge for about four hours of work on July 3 was to review and analyze closing documents and invoices for production to DOJ, referring to the Department of Justice.

Beyond revealing the continued interest of federal authorities, as well as frequent requests for documents, the firm's legal bills shed few clues on whether any criminal charges will result after months of back and forth between the Justice Department and Solyndra.

Altogether, K&L Gates, which was hired specifically to represent Solyndra in what bankruptcy attorneys called a federal criminal investigation, has charged nearly a half-million dollars in legal fees for more than 1,200 hours of work during the past year.

The firm's legal work continued through the first week of November with joint defense calls and conferences, according to records.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco, which has been investigating the company's demise, declined to comment in an email to The Times last week. …

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