State accelerates pressure on electric car company to repay incentive loans

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GreenTech Automotive

GreenTech Automotive Robinsonville manufacturing facility

State officials are demanding that a Tunica County electric car operation return $6.4 million in taxpayers’ dollars about six years after issuing the business a $3 million Industry Incentive loan. And they’re prepared to go to court.

The Mississippi Office of the State Auditor contends GreenTech Automotive Inc., located in Robinsonville, did not comply with its loan payment agreement with the Mississippi Development Authority, failed to create at least 350 new full-time jobs and did not meet the requirement to invest at least $60 million in the project by Dec. 31, 2014.

The state Legislature created the Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing Revolving Fund in fiscal year 2010 to provide money the MDA could use to stimulate projects without having to create special legislation for each one.

Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering last week issued the order for repayment to Charles Wang, president and CEO of GreenTech, to remedy the plant’s failure, interest and recovery costs.

The repayment order includes the $3 million public loan issued to GreenTech, a $2 million loan to Tunica County to secure land for GreenTech’s production facility and costs for issuance and interest incurred by the state.

Wang was given 30 days starting July 5 to pay back the state, otherwise the case will be referred to the Mississippi attorney general.

GreenTech is a McLean, Va.-based automotive manufacturer that aims to “bring manufacturing jobs back to America” by producing affordable electric cars, according to its website.

GreenTech Automotive

First MyCar production vehicle, 2016

The plan was to produce 2-seat and 5-seat electric sedans. The company also was producing an electric vehicle called “MyCar” in Horn Lake that would sell for $15,000 to $18,000 with a driving range of 115 miles, according to a Commercial Appeal report.

The company has made one loan payment to date of $150,000 to the Mississippi Development Authority in November 2016, the auditor’s office said.

GreenTech sought to raise money from Chinese investors who can obtain U.S. residency by investing $500,000 and creating 10 jobs. The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found an official violated ethics policies when he intervened in visa proceedings for GreenTech.

GreenTech also has been investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is former chairman of GreenTech.  He resigned in December 2012.

The Mississippi Development Authority negotiates the use of the funds with companies such as GreenTech. Grants or loans can be awarded to companies or local governments to meet a project’s specific needs, such as site preparation, infrastructure improvements, building construction costs, training or to relocate equipment.

Aside from GreenTech, the Industry Incentive fund has supported projects by Nissan Motor Corp., Olin Corporation, Raytheon Company and the former KiOR plant, which is in receivership due to bankruptcy, according to MDA’s fiscal year 2016 Mississippi Incentives Report.