* U.S. govt, Solyndra spar over tax breaks
* Investor says DOE backed plan that preserved tax breaks
* Closing arguments set for Monday
By Tom Hals
WILMINGTON, Del, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Failed solar panel maker Solyndra pressed a federal judge on Wednesday to approve its plan to end its politically charged bankruptcy over objections by the U.S. government, which argued the plan was being used by investors to dodge taxes.
Critics say government involvement in the company has cost taxpayers twice: for a $528 million government loan, and for tax breaks potentially worth $340 million that will go to venture capitalists.
Delaware bankruptcy judge Mary Walrath heard about five hours of testimony on Wednesday about the plan, which has the support of all of Solyndra’s creditors aside from the U.S. government.
She adjourned the hearing until Monday, when both sides will present closing arguments.
The government might get nothing under the plan, according to court documents.
An executive of one of the venture capital firms said the Department of Energy, which guaranteed the loan, threw its support behind a key restructuring deal in February 2011 which preserved the tax breaks.
Steve Mitchell, a managing director of Argonaut Private Equity, told the court that preserving tax breaks “was very, very important” to the DOE because it gave Solyndra a better chance of survival.
Net operating losses, or NOLs, can be used to reduce future income by the amount of past losses. The bankruptcy plan allows Solyndra’s parent company to exit bankruptcy under the control of Argonaut and Madrone Capital Partners. The parent company will not have any employees or operations and its main asset will be the NOLs.
Solyndra ceased operations last year and has sold virtually every asset to raise money to repay creditors.