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KiOR case still bogged down in lawsuits

By JACK WEATHERLY

More than five years ago, the state of Mississippi sued billionaire Vinod Khosla and others, contending that they knew that bankrupt firm KiOR had poor prospects for success in making biocrude oil but misled the state into making the company a $75 million no-interest loan.

What has happened since?

Another lawsuit.

The KiOR Inc. Liquidation Trust sued two men, former KiOR President and Chief Executive Officer Fred Cannon and former Vice President Andre Ditsch, later a consultant for it, in Hinds County Circuit Court on Nov. 8, 2016 for that amount, alleging, as the state has against KiOR, that the two men had known better and led KiOR into failure and Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Mississippi Development Authority did not respond immediately on Tuesday as to whether the Liquidation lawsuit has had any effect on its case.

During Gov. Haley Barbour’s two four-year terms, from 2004 through 2012, the state made a stake in some ambitious, but ultimately failed, start-ups, including KiOR, which was touted by Barbour as standing to create 1,000 jobs.

Twin Creeks Technologies, facility for which was built in Senatobia at a cost of $27.7 million by the state for the solar-panel manufacturer, closed without producing marketable panels. The state eventually sold the building and then-Gov. Phil Bryant said he expected the state to make full recovery. Messages left with state Auditor Chad White’s office on Wednesday were not immediately returned.

The failure of the Mississippi Power Co. “clean-coal” facility in Kemper County cost taxpayers no money but overran projections by $4.5 billion as it failed to produce synthetic coal gas on a marketable scale. Mississippi Power and parent Southern Co. absorbed $6.4 billion in losses and Southern wrote off $3.4 billion on its books.

Then-State Auditor Stacy Pickering said in March 2018 that Stion Solar in Hattiesburg owed the state $93 million in its failed effort. A message left with the Chad White’s office on Wednesday was not immediately returned.

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About Jack Weatherly