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West Virginia governor liable for $700M coal company loan

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice confirmed on Tuesday that he is personally liable for $700 million in loans taken by his coal companies from a lender in the United Kingdom that went bankrupt.

The Republican governor took shots at the bankrupt Greensill Capital U.K. and said “it is a burden on our family beyond belief.” The Wall Street Journal first reported Justice’s debt on Monday.

Justice’s businesses face several other woes, including penalties totaling $3.2 million from the federal government and lawsuits over claims his companies failed to deliver coal.

Greensill sold the loans to investment funds managed by Credit Suisse Group AG, which froze the funds in March and is in talks with Justice’s Bluestone Resources Inc. and other borrowers to get paid, the Journal reported.

Justice said at his regularly-scheduled pandemic news conference that the loans were acquired to rebuild Bluestone after a period of decline. The Roanoke, Virginia-based company is involved in mining metallurgical grade coal used for steel making.

Bluestone sued Greensill, a supply chain finance firm, after it went under in March over allegations of fraud.

The Financial Conduct Authority, Britain’s financial regulatory body, has announced a formal investigation into Greensill’s collapse after receiving allegations that it said were “potentially criminal in nature.”

“If you knew all the details you’d know that evidently Greensill is a bad, bad actor, and you know almost in partnership with the Credit Suisse people,” Justice told reporters. He said he had not read the story in the Journal.

“Our companies are good and they’ve done the right stuff,” he added. “It’s very unfortunate and truly it’s a pain, that’s all there is to it.”

Cuneyt Dil, The Associated Press