Mo. House committee begins Mamtek hearings | St. Louis Public Radio

Mo. House committee begins Mamtek hearings

Nov 29, 2011

Two days of hearings are underway at the Missouri Capitol to explore why an artificial sweetener facility in Moberly never opened and why the small town’s bond rating took a hit.

The House Interim Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability is focusing on conflicting documents over the trustworthiness of the company Mamtek. Corey Mehaffy heads the Moberly Area Economic Development Corporation. He testified that the state Department of Economic Development never shared emails with the city revealing that a DED official could not verify whether Mamtek had a functioning plant in China.

“I also asked if the department would send the boots on the ground, the gentleman they have representing them on the ground in China, to verify the existence of the Chinese facility," Mehaffy told the committee. "I was told, ‘Someone would have to pay for that.’”

Other documents show that an attorney for Mamtek assured Moberly officials that the plant did exist.

Moberly issued $39 million in bonds to build its own plant, but the project fell through, and the town’s credit rating was downgraded when Mamtek missed its bond payment.  State Representative Jay Barnes (R, Jefferson City) chairs the committee.

“We don’t have a third-party account of whether that plant exists or not," Barnes said. "What we have are two different [sets of] documents, [the one] that expresses doubts was in possession of DED, and [the other] the law firm which represented the bond underwriter…Moberly and a number of other parties to this process were never provided that information.”

Barnes says the Department of Economic Development needs to make filling the empty plant in Moberly its top priority.

Meanwhile, DED Director David Kerr is scheduled to testify on Wednesday.