Is this a conflict of interest? Solyndra, the solar panel company in the middle of a huge national scandal involving the Obama administration, ousted their CEO today according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and other sources. Now the company has asked that Hollywood’s persistent and controversial bankruptcy trustee, R. Todd Neilson, take over the restructuring of the company.
Only one thing: Neilson and Richard Pachulski, a Los Angeles-Century City bankruptcy attorney who’s earned substantial fees already on Solyndra, are regular teammates in high profile cases. They are also linked by the controversial Private Bank of California. Neilson is the chairman of the board. Richard Pachulski is a director. Among the many cases they’ve worked on together and earned millions from is superstar boxer Mike Tyson’s bankruptcy case.
Pachulski’s law firm, Pachulski, Stang Ziehl and Jones, as been earning big fees from the Solyndra matter for some time according to AM Law Journal. They reported: “…bankruptcy boutique Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones is advising Solyndra on its Chapter 11 proceedings through name partner [Richard] Pachulski ($950), partners Debra Grassgreen ($795), Bruce Grohsgal ($705), and Joshua Fried ($650), and of counsel Shirley Cho ($650). Court records show that Solyndra paid $400,000 to Pachulski Stang in the year prior to its bankruptcy filing.” The numbers in parentheses are what the lawyers earn per hour.
That’s not all: at least one other director of the Private Bank of California, A. Stuart Rubin, is Pachulski’s partner in a separate real estate company.
Neilson’s involvement in the Private Bank of California as well as numerous celebrity bankruptcies, has been questionable for some time. His own firm, LECG, went belly up in its own financial scandal this year. Neilson decamped to a company started by a former LECG partner, giving itself the proper sounding name of Berkeley Research Group.
Meanwhile, other members of the board of the Private Bank of California include two partners from the same big deal Hollywood law firm: Gary Stiffelman and Melanie Cook.
And we wonder why #occupywallstreet is growing.