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Solyndra Ex-Workers Denied Bid to Challenge Lender Releases

Fired employees of Solyndra LLC, the failed solar-panel maker backed by government loan guarantees, lost their request to challenge so-called releases from potential lawsuits given to the company’s lenders, including Argonaut Ventures LLC, under the company’s bankruptcy financing.

“I have to deny the motion” because Solyndra has already given standing to bring potential lawsuits to the official committee of unsecured creditors, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath said at a hearing today in Wilmington, Delaware.

“The committee is doing its job” and is “onboard and actively pursuing” these potential claims, so an additional investigation isn’t necessary, Walrath said.

Solyndra also will seek court approval at today’s hearing to pay as much as $368,500 in bonuses to some of its remaining employees as incentives for reaching certain milestones in the bankruptcy case.

The company, based in Fremont, California, sought Chapter 11 protection Sept. 6. Two days later its offices were raided by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. The solar-panel maker listed about $854.1 million in assets and about $867.1 million in debt in court papers filed Oct. 31.

Solyndra’s collapse prompted congressional scrutiny of President Barack Obama, who praised the company during a May 2010 tour of its facilities. The company faces a probe by Republicans in Congress over the federal loan guarantee it used to build a $733 million factory.

Argonaut Ventures, the investment arm of billionaire-Obama fundraiser George Kaiser’s charitable organization, holds almost 39 percent of Solyndra’s parent, 360 Solar Degree Holdings Inc.

The case is In re Solyndra LLC, 11-12799, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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