Salt Lake Mayor Ensnarled in Bankrupt Company’s Affairs
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ A federal bankruptcy judge Wednesday seized $255,000 earmarked to pay off a loan on Mayor Deedee Corradini’s home in the latest twist in an investigation into a bankrupt company she once had an interest in.
The money had been placed in an escrow account belonging to a Panamanian shell company created by Bonneville Pacific Corp., an alternative energy company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year.
Corradini, whose four-year term began in January, is a founder of Bonneville Pacific’s parent company, the Bonneville Group.
A bankruptcy examiner’s report earlier this year indicated that directors of Bonneville Pacific may have benefited financially at the expense of stockholders who lost millions of dollars. The report said the bankrupt company may have been involved in fraudulent transactions involving huge profits funneled through shell companies.
Corradini has said she did nothing wrong in connection with Bonneville Pacific. However, the court examiner’s report said she benefited with Bonneville Pacific executives who earned millions of dollars at the expense of stockholders.
Company officials are being investigated for possible fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI.
Corradini also is a minority owner of the Panamanian shell company, Sallah International. She had a line of credit with Sallah, and the debt was secured by a second mortgage on her Salt Lake home.
Corradini, her husband Yan Ross and Sallah vice president John Dunlop had instructed the escrow company to send the money to Sallah’s office in Switzerland on Jan. 15, but left open the possibility the money could be transferred sooner.
When bankruptcy trustee Roger Segal learned of the escrow account last week, he asked U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge John Allen to immediately attach the escrow account. The judge ordered the attachment and set a hearing on the case for Dec. 29.
Vernon Hopkinson, Segal’s attorney, said, ″We didn’t want the money going to Switzerland. We felt that if it did, we might not see it again.″
Also Wednesday, Segal filed a complaint against Sallah, seeking to recover at least $4.5 million that he says was diverted from Bonneville Pacific into Sallah for the personal benefit of its insiders.
Corridini’s spokesman, Thom Dillon, said Corradini refinanced her home so she could repay Sallah, as she had promised last June after the bankruptcy examiner’s report disclosed her debt to Sallah.