A recently reopened ethanol plant in Buffalo Lake is closed again, and Purified Renewable Energy’s top executives have been fired amid allegations of wrongdoing in an unfolding bankruptcy case.
MNN reports former chief financial officer Patrick Riggs was terminated in March while on leave for cancer surgery, and just 10 of 23 employees remain on the job.
Court documents show the plant has just enough borrowed money for a few weeks. After a more than two year shutdown, new owners reopened the plant last year, but it never hit its 25 million-gallon-a-year capacity after two fires last fall. A problem with wastewater disposal also forced the struggling company to spend money on environmental compliance and the entire ethanol industry has struggled in the last year with higher prices for corn.
Among the allegations of wrongdoing among top executives is that CEO Steven Walker deposited a $250,000 insurance check to the company into a separate bank account shortly before his termination. Riggs argues that Walker did so in order to meet payroll.