Fall-out from Hoku’s failed polysilicon project heats-up
Hoku/TIANWEI owes at least $100 million to various U.S. companies
From PV-Tech.org October 10, 2013
A family-owned North Carolina-based manufacturer is calling upon the US federal government and governors from five states to probe the reasons why Hoku Corporation and its major partner in the project, Tianwei have failed to pay its debts and review its investment practices into foreign owned businesses.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Industrial Piping, Inc. (IPI), a manufacturer of custom fabricated process equipment for the industrial marketplace, wants both federal and state officials to open investigations as to why the Chinese government has been allowed to use federal bankruptcy laws to shield its assets, but refuses to pay debts when it has hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank to settle with its creditors.
IPI officials were advised that Hoku Corporation (OTC: HOKUQ) and two of its affiliates filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy July 3, using American-based bankruptcy laws to avoid settling debts owed by China. Contractors in five states, including North Carolina, Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama and Utah, are owed huge sums of money after they built a Pocatello, Idaho polysilicon plant in good faith.
On July 5, IPI filed a complaint with the United States Trade Representative (USTR) related to the multi-million dollar debt owed by Hoku and its parent corporation, Chengdu, China-based TIANWEI New Energy Holdings Co., Ltd. (TWNE). TIANWEI is operated by key Chinese government officials and had revenues of $44 billion in 2011.
Another American contractor – JH Kelly LLC – announced in August 2013 it is also taking its fight against Hoku and TIANWEI to federal court to be reimbursed for its losses. JH Kelly also filed RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) and fraud charges associated with this matter against Hoku in August 2013.
TIANWEI owns a majority stake in Hoku and is one of several large companies controlled by the government of China. As of today, Hoku/TIANWEI owes at least $100 million to various U.S. companies for work and goods furnished in good faith without pay.
"Hoku/TIANWEI currently has – at minimum – an estimated $100 million approved and available in Chinese banks to be paid out on their Pocatello project. IPI is entitled to be paid for all the services that we provided, and we believe IPI will prevail in the courts on this outstanding debt," said T.J. Bucholz, IPI spokesman. "While we will remain strong as a company, this debt cannot be allowed to remain unpaid. State and federal authorities must address these untenable issues, as part of their responsibility to us and all American-owned businesses."
Bucholz also said that while these debts incurred by TIANWEI and the Chinese government remain outstanding, the Obama Administration awarded a contract and continues to pay Hoku hundreds of millions of dollars for a project in Forest City, Hawaii, a community that recently flipped the switch on a 1.23-megawatt solar farm for military housing on Oahu at a United States Naval base.
Despite asking questions behind the scenes to state and federal officials, IPI has not received satisfactory answers to even basic questions associated with these unscrupulous business practices, Bucholz said.
IPI has not been paid for months of work for Hoku's polysilicon plant in Pocatello, Idaho, which included engineering, project management, fabrication, procurement and construction services.
IPI fabricates and installs industrial manufacturing equipment and piping systems, custom modular process plants, automatic fire protection, and also provides engineering services. It employs approximately 300 employees and teamed with an additional group of sub-contractors on the Pocatello project that represent an additional 700 employees and a total of $50 million in completed, but unpaid, work.
Hoku has inspected and approved the completed work, but executives at the company's Chinese parent refuse to pay. In the complaint, IPI alleges that it provided materials, labor and other construction services to build the Hoku polysilicon plant. Polysilicon is used to make solar photovoltaic cells in solar panels and in electronic devices.
© 2013 Solar Media Limited
RELATED: PDF OF OPEN LETTER TO HOKU/TIANWEI