Gov. Justice Acknowledges Responsibility For $700 Million In Unpaid Business Loans
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has acknowledged that he owes $700 million in loans that have yet to be paid by one of his coal companies.
The governor fielded questions about the outstanding loans Tuesday during his COVID-19 briefing, following a report that indicated his responsibility for the debt.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Justice’s Bluestone Coal Corp. had taken out loans from Greensill Capital in 2018. The lending company recently went bankrupt, leaving a Swiss bank that bought the debt trying to recoup the funds.
Bluestone and Credit Suisse are reportedly now in talks about repayment, according to The Wall Street Journal. Bluestone has also sued Greensill for fraud in federal court.
Justice said Tuesday he had not read The Wall Street Journal’s report, but acknowledged he had been briefed on what was contained in the story.
The governor said Bluestone’s loans “have always been personally guaranteed” and that he and his businesses were not at fault. He repeatedly called Greensill a “bad actor” and says the debts are a “burden” on his family but that they are working to repay.
“It is a burden on our family beyond belief. And we'll have to deal with it and everything,” Justice said. “But, you see, that's something that we'll have to deal with as a family and everything. It's tough, it is really tough.”
Justice also pointed out that a Russian company had once owned Bluestone, saying that the coal operator had “melted down to nothing” before he had bought it back in 2015. Justice reportedly bought Bluestone for less than 1 percent of the price he’d originally sold it in 2009.
“It closed and left reclamation liabilities like crazy. They absolutely left liabilities to the unions, you know — there were pension obligations to the unions,” Justice said. “They left absolute tax liabilities, you know, whether it be to Wyoming County or McDowell County — and they left all kinds of obligations to vendors.”
Forbes had listed Justice as a billionaire, but the business magazine reported in April he was worth $440 million.