Mamtek

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The five-year legal saga of Mamtek, a mid-Missouri failed development project that caused political headaches for Gov. Jay Nixon, is apparently over.

A civil trial slated to get under way this week came to an end Wednesday morning during jury selection when the two sides reached a confidential settlement.

Orange Co., Calif.

The former CEO of a company that announced it would open an artificial sweetener plant in a small north Missouri town, but never did, has pleaded guilty to three felony counts connected to the scandal.

In 2010, Mamtek CEO Bruce Cole persuaded city leaders in Moberly to issue $39 million in bonds to build the plant, which was to employ 600 people. Shortly afterward, the state's Economic Development Department kicked in $17 million in tax credits for the project -- however, those credits were never used.

(Mo. Sec. Of State website)

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander is taking action against a financial management company connected to the failed Mamtek artificial sweetener plant in mid-Missouri.

In his role as Secretary of State Jason Kander also serves as Missouri’s chief securities regulator.

He’s accusing Morgan Keegan, a Memphis-based firm of helping defraud Missourians based on a list of falsehoods, including the claim the Mamtek held several production patents.  

(Orange County, California, Sheriff's Dept.)

Former Mamtek CEO Bruce Cole has ended his fight to be extradited to Missouri, where he faces charges related to the collapse of a project to build an artificial sweetener plant in the town of Moberly.

After refusing last week to be extradited, Cole reversed course at a hearing today in Orange County, California, and waived extradition.  He is charged with diverting $700,000 in bond money to cover personal expenses.  That included around $250,000, which was directed towards a failed attempt to prevent foreclosure on his home in Beverly Hills.

(Orange County, California, Sheriff's Dept.)

The former CEO of Mamtek is fighting extradition to Missouri.

At a court hearing today in Santa Ana, California, Bruce Cole refused to be extradited, which means that he can’t be sent back to Missouri unless the Governor of California asks the court to order it.  A spokeswoman for the Missouri Attorney General’s office says that request is being expedited.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

A state audit released today says that the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) could have done a better job of screening applicants for tax credits for the failed Mamtek project in Moberly.

Two years ago the small northeast Missouri town issued $39 million in bonds to get the company to build an artificial sweetener plant.  Mamtek later missed a bond payment and construction halted, and Moberly’s bond rating was downgraded as a result.  State Auditor Tom Schweich (R) said the due diligence procedures used by the DED were woefully inadequate.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Proposed amendment to appear on November ballot

A Missouri appeals court panel has upheld the ballot summary for a proposed constitutional amendment that would change the process for selecting appellate judges.

In its ruling Monday, a three-judge panel of the Western District Court of Appeals certified the summary that voters will see on the November ballot.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

UMB Bank says assets from a failed artificial sweetener facility in Moberly will be auctioned this fall.

The bank is the bondholder trustee for the central Missouri project that was to be operated by Mamtek U.S. Inc.

Moberly issued $39 million in bonds to finance construction of the plant, and the state offered about $17 million in incentives. Work stopped last fall on the partially built factory after Mamtek missed a bond payment to Moberly. No state incentives were paid.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Speaker of the Missouri House has thrown cold water on a scaled-back tax credit reform measure passed Wednesday by the Senate.

The Missouri Senate has passed a tax credit measure after hammering out an agreement between GOP leaders and fiscal conservatives who’ve been trying to reign in tax breaks for years.

The agreement would cap historic preservation tax credits at $75 million per year, give a one-year extension to food pantry and other charitable tax breaks, and create incentives to draw amateur sporting events to Missouri.  State Senator Eric Schmitt (R, Glendale) urged the chamber to pass it before time runs out on the regular session.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Mo. lawmakers seek requirements for officials involved in economic development projects

A House panel heard testimony Monday on eight measures aimed at increasing scrutiny of businesses that ask for government money. The legislation would require local governments to get insurance for municipal bonds for economic development projects and to hold public hearings before issuing bonds.

State and local officials would also have to share information they have about companies seeking development incentives.

(via Flickr/pasa47)

Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:

Slay authorizes $64 million in bonds for St. Louis parks

Funding for St. Louis City parks will no longer be siphoned into other capital improvement projects, following a bill signing by Mayor Francis Slay Monday night.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Governor Jay Nixon (D) says his administration wisely handled the vetting of a Los Angeles-based company that began building an artificial sweetener plant in Moberly, then pulled out after missing its bond payment to the small northeast Missouri town.

Moberly officials told a State House committee this week that the governor’s Department of Economic Development withheld emails from a DED consultant revealing that he could not verify whether Mamtek had a functioning plant in China.  Nixon did not address that accusation when talking with reporters today, but he did say no taxpayer dollars went to Mamtek.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Department of Economic Development is defending its role in the Mamtek controversy, in which the town of Moberly issued $39 million in bonds to build an artificial sweetener plant which never opened.

DED Director David Kerr told the House Interim Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability that his agency carefully reviewed Los Angeles-based Mamtek’s request for state incentives, which were not issued – but he also said that it’s not DED’s role to double-check every claim made by every company seeking tax credits.

Flickr/ChrisEaves.com

Quinn and lawmakers reach deal on state facilities

A budget deal reached among Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and lawmakers will save seven state facilities and the jobs at those locations, at least for now.  The plan won General Assembly approval Tuesday.  Quinn had targeted a handful of developmental centers, prisons and psychiatric hospitals for shutdown after the legislature failed to provide enough money to keep them operating. 

Quinn’s budget director, David Vaught, says the deal to shift money in the budget is a better solution…

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

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.

(Mo. Dept. of Economic Development)

The director of Missouri's Department of Economic Development is stepping down at the end of the year.

In a news release Tuesday from Gov. Jay Nixon, department director David Kerr cited a desire to spend more time with his family after working for 35 years in the public and private sectors. Nixon said he would move quickly to select a new director.

Kerr took office in November 2009.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

A lawsuit has been filed in federal court against the company responsible for a failed artificial sweetener factory in Moberly.

Mamtek U.S. Inc. planned to employ several hundred people at the central Missouri plant, and Moberly issued $39 million in bonds to pay for the project.

But Mamtek missed a bond payment and the plant still is under construction. Moberly has said it does not plan to pay off remaining bonds.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews/Mike Anderson)

County confirms salad bars at Schnucks focus of E. coli investigation

St. Louis County officials have acknowledged that salad bars at Schnucks are the main focus of an investigation into an E. coli outbreak.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

A Missouri Senate committee has requested that the state’s Economic Development Department hand over all documents related to a failed attempt to build an artificial sweetener plant in Moberly.  The northeast Missouri town agreed to issue $39 million in bonds to Los Angeles-based Mamtek.  But the project fell through, and Moberly was stuck with a $39 million tab when the company missed its bond payment.  Republican Senator Kurt Schaefer of Columbia was appointed to the Governmental Accountability C

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