Solyndra investor promoted panels to the Navy: report

The headquarters of bankrupt Solyndra LLC is shown in Fremont, California September 20, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

WASHINGTON | Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:45am EDT

(Reuters) – One of the largest private investors in failed solar firm Solyndra recommended the company’s panels for a U.S. Navy contract at a time when the company was struggling with cash flow, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Kevin Kopczynski, a principal of RockPort Capital who is on a venture capital advisory panel to the Pentagon, promoted Solyndra for a program designed to look for new energy technologies, the newspaper reported.

Kopczynski said he disclosed his firm’s $47.5 million stake in Solyndra but did not disclose that the company was in financial trouble because he said it was not required.

“The Navy put out a request for solar technologies with certain attributes. Solyndra and the others I recommended fit the various technology requests,” Kopczynski told the newspaper.

Neither Kopczynski nor RockPort could be immediately reached for comment.

Solyndra received a $535 million government loan guarantee. It was raided by the FBI after it filed for bankruptcy.

Republicans in the House of Representatives are investigating whether politics played a role in that decision, and whether the Energy Department broke the law by agreeing to restructure Solyndra’s debt earlier this year.

A hearing set for Friday will examine the restructuring, and will feature testimony from the Treasury Department.

The navy chose Solyndra for a pilot program that would have paid the company about $400,000, the newspaper said. “However, given how that played out, with their bankruptcy, we never pursued that as a contract,” said Thomas Hicks, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy.

Hicks told the newspaper that he did not know RockPort was an investor in Solyndra, and said the program did not look at the finances of firms recommended by its venture capital advisers.

RockPort is Solyndra’s fourth-largest investor with a 7.5 percent stake, the newspaper said. David Prend, RockPort’s managing general partner, is a Solyndra board member.

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