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Failed US solar energy firm silent at Congress hearing
WASHINGTON, Sept 23 (AFP) Sep 23, 2011
Executives from a solar energy firm that went bankrupt after getting a half-billion-dollar government loan refused to testify at a congressional hearing Friday where one lawmaker accused them of a "heist."

The House Energy and Commerce Committee opened its hearing into solar panel firm Solyndra, whose failure has become an embarrassment for the administration of President Barack Obama and his push for "green jobs."

Solyndra president and chief executive Brian Harrison and chief financial officer William Stover refused to testify at the hearing on the $535 million loan, invoking their constitutional right against self-incrimination.

But the committee chair, Representative Fred Upton, commented that "it appears that we have a great heist of over half a billion dollars and possibly even willing collaborators, maybe even co-conspirators, called the US government, who rushed out a $535 million loan to Solyndra."

The California-based firm, which was granted a loan in an effort to highlight a push for new jobs in the renewable energy sector, has been the target of a congressional probe since February. It sought bankruptcy protection on August 31 and the FBI later raided its offices.

"Let me just warn you and the other folks involved in this taxpayer rip-off," said Upton. "We're not done. No we're not."

Democratic Representative Henry Waxman criticized the actions of his Republican colleagues at the hearing.

"So I just want to take this moment to assert the fact that I think it's unseemly and inappropriate for members to be asking questions that we know you will not answer," he said.

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