Father of Ponzi scheme operator wants to buy NuScale
By Erik Siemers, Business Journal staff writer
Business Journal staff writer
Ramon Illarramendi wants to buy Corvallis-based NuScale.
The father of the man accused of running a Ponzi scheme that left NuScale Power scrambling for capital now wants to buy the Corvallis nuclear energy startup.
Ramon Illarramendi on Wednesday asked the U.S. District Court in Connecticut to open a due diligence period that would allow him to present an offer for NuScale.
NuScale, which is developing scalable nuclear reactor technology, furloughed most of its 100-person work force and halted most of its operations in March after its primary financial backer, the Michael Kenwood Group, became the focus of a federal U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission probe.
NuScale issued a statement Thursday saying that the company is working with a new investor who is negotiating with the receiver.
"The negotiations are continuing. The investor has provided the company with sufficient bridge funding to bring our employees back to full salary. NuScale is optimistic the financing issues will be resolved this year," the statement read.
Francisco Illarramendi, Ramon’s son and the hedge fund’s majority owner, pleaded guilty to running the Ponzi scheme in March that left a majority ownership stake in NuScale’s in the hands of a court-appointed receiver.
Ramon Illarramendi said he played no role in his son’s hedge fund, but as a former diplomat and Venezuelan representative to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries offered his insight on global energy matters.
In the court filing Wednesday, he told the court he believed the court-appointed receiver is on the verge of selling the ownership stake in NuScale for “substantially below fair market value.” The sale, he said, would come so quickly that he was told he wouldn’t be given a chance to conduct a due diligence investigation and have only 24 hours to put together a competing bid.
NuScale as of July had begun bringing back furloughed workers. The company at the time said it had hoped to raise new rounds of capital, but its shares had to be freed from the receiver’s control before that can happen.
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