Mississippi gives electric auto firm till Nov. 7 to pay loan

Markets Associated Press

Mississippi officials are giving an electric car maker another month to obtain financing in China after the company missed a June payment on its $3 million state loan.

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An Aug. 9 letter obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request shows the Mississippi Development Authority has given GreenTech until Nov. 7 to make the $150,000 payment originally due June 30.

GreenTech Chief Financial Officer Peter Huddleston told Mississippi in an earlier letter that the company says it's raising money through a merger of its assets in China with another business, but that final approval from Chinese securities regulators has been delayed.

"Upon finalization of the recapitalization transaction, we expect to be able to move forward with GTA's business in Tunica County and commence to meet our obligations," Huddleston wrote.

It's unclear what Huddleston means. He didn't respond to a phone call and email seeking comment Friday.

In addition to missing its loan payment, Mississippi says GreenTech has neither hired the 350 people it promised, nor invested the $60 million it promised. MDA spokesman Jeff Rent couldn't immediately say Friday how many employees the state believes GreenTech has, or how much it has invested.

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The Roanoke Times reported in May that a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services document showed GreenTech had only 75 employees last year, has produced only 25 cars and has sold none. The newspaper wrote that the chief of the immigrant investor program signed a decision stating GreenTech had a "general lack of credibility from the failure to meet any projected timelines."

A July 7 letter from MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough declared GreenTech in default, and the Aug. 9 letter warned that the state would declare the entirety of the $3 million loan due immediately if GreenTech doesn't make a payment by Nov. 7, possibly setting up the state to seize GreenTech's property.

Besides the $3 million loan, Mississippi loaned Tunica County $1.9 million to buy the site and exempted the company from income, franchise and equipment and machinery sales taxes.

Previously, GreenTech has raised money from Chinese people who can obtain U.S. residency by investing $500,000 through Gulf Coast Funds Management, a center approved to accept foreign investment. The USCIS website shows that center is still in operation. That fund was at one time associated with Tony Rodham, the brother of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, although it's unclear from business records if he's still involved. Another center associated with Rodham, the Virginia Center for Foreign Investment and Job Creation was removed from the visa program Sept. 29, according to USCIS' website.

A 2015 report found Alejandro Mayorkas, who recently announced his departure as deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, broke ethics rules when he intervened in visa proceedings for GreenTech and two other projects. Mayorkas has denied he influenced any agency decisions for political purposes.

Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's former investment with GreenTech was attacked by Republicans. McAuliffe has said he divested his interest in GreenTech. McAuliffe acknowledged in May that he's under federal investigation for business dealings before he became governor. His lawyer said Justice Department officials told him they have been looking into McAuliffe's foreign sources of income before he became governor in 2014 and whether he violated the law by lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of foreign interests.


Follow Jeff Amy at: http://twitter.com/jeffamy. Read his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/jeff-amy.