Bank Calls Loan On Navajo's BCDS - 'One Brown Girl' Seeks Writers
By Kathy Helms - Gallup Independent
WINDOW ROCK – JPMorgan Chase has called the loan on Biochemical Decontamination Systems Manufacturing Inc., leaving the Navajo Nation less $2.2 million in its Navajo Dam Escrow Account, according to Budget and Finance Committee Chairman LoRenzo Bates.
“They made the call on it, they issued the demand, and they took it,” Bates said Thursday evening from Las Vegas. The loan first came due on Sept. 28, however, JPMorgan granted a 60-day extension and it expired Nov. 28.
Bates said money from the Business and Industrial Development Fund could have been used to pay the $15,000 monthly interest payment, as has been done in the past to prevent the bank from calling the loan, but that didn't happen. The Economic Development Committee previously had directed the Division of Economic Development to cease making interest payments on the loan from the fund.
According to Controller Mark Grant, who also was in Las Vegas, the Navajo Nation received a demand letter on Monday. “I got a phone call saying we got this letter and JPMorgan is demanding the collateral. We released the funds to JPMorgan on Tuesday. Everything was ready to go, we just needed the final word on it.
“Now the Navajo Dam Escrow Account is reduced by $2.2 million. We've also got the $1.2 million for the egg farm that we received a letter on. We haven't released the money yet. We probably will do that next week,” he said. Between the two loans, the Nation could lose $3.4 million of the $6.5 million balance.
Daniel Lopez of Dine Poultry Products Inc. told Budget and Finance last week that they had submitted all documents and were in a holding pattern waiting on the Bureau of Indian Affairs to sign off on a $7.7 million loan guarantee to fund the table eggs project.
Bates said Thursday, however, that BIA is not expected to sign off on it. He said that while the company has been providing an expense report, “the report is not detailed, and that's what BIA wanted.”
Grant told Budget and Finance last week that they had received a call from Wells Fargo Bank in Farmington informing them that Native American Bank had sent a letter asking them for the collateral of $1.2 million from the Navajo Dam Escrow Account. “They indicated that the loan was in default and that they were, at that point, calling the collateral,” he said.
Budget and Finance plans to rescind the resolution that allowed the egg farm to get the $1.2 million. “What that will do is it will prevent them from drawing any more down on it,” Grant said. Collateral for the loan originally was approved at $3 million.
“What we need to do is next time we have a loan, to put some control measures on it so we can monitor the disbursements out of the loan – something that would give us some oversight over the use of the fund. We failed to do that on this loan. Now we know.”
A special audit review report in May by the Office of the Auditor General found that BCDS was in debt approximately $4.7 million, which included the $2.2 million loan and money owed to the state of New Mexico and the IRS. Auditors' analysis of bank activities found that former CEO Hak Ghun intermingled his personal funds with corporate funds.
“Based on our interviews with the former CEO, he acknowledged treating the corporate bank accounts as his own personal checking account. Over the four year-period, we identified over $3 million of personal expenses paid out of the BCDS checking accounts,” senior auditor Alfreda Lee told Budget and Finance in May.
“Personal expenses include casino, golf, vehicles, cash, over-the-counter withdrawals, personal loans repaid, checks issued to relatives, and unknown payees for a total of $3,085,017,” she said.
Hak Ghun left the company and was last known to be living in Torrance, Calif. At the time, he still held stock in the company, though the Navajo Nation became majority owner in 2004 after a total investment of $311,290 from the Business and Industrial Development Fund.
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