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Treasury Department Review of Solyndra Loan Was Rushed

April 5th 2012

Solyndra HQ 02

The Energy Department kept Treasury Department officials in the dark until late in the government's review of the $535 million loan to now-bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra, triggering a rushed consultation that may have left concerns unresolved, a new audit released April 4 found.

The audit by the Treasury Department’s inspector general found that Treasury officials had raised serious concerns about the terms of the loan, but there was no documentation of whether they were addressed. The report’s findings of hurried reviews and ignored warning signs echo previous reporting on Solyndra.

The loan, originally touted as a model of President Obama’s green energy program, has become a political weapon. “The Treasury report echoes what our investigation has shown over and over; Solyndra was a bad bet from the beginning that was rushed out the door while every red flag was ignored,” Republican Reps. Fred Upton and Cliff Stearns said in a statement Wednesday.

Though the Energy Department arranged the loan, it was actually processed by the Federal Financing Bank, a government lending institution under Treasury’s control. The newly released audit found that Treasury was not involved in the process until the loan negotiations were largely complete.

Treasury officials raised concerns about the terms of the loan, including the fact that it included a 100 percent guarantee, rather than a partial guarantee, auditors found. After a conference call with Energy Department officials, one Treasury official wrote, in an email uncovered by auditors, “we pressed on certain issues … but the train really has left the station on this deal.”

Chris Hamby writes for iWatch News, a project of the Center for Public Integrity, from where this article is reprinted.

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