Bankrupt Solar Firm ECD Sues Chinese

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The installation of a UniSolar roof in happier days for Energy Converesion Devices -- 2010.

The installation of a UniSolar roof in happier days for Energy Converesion Devices — 2010.

SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – The bankruptcy trustee for a failed solar panel manufacturer in Oakland County has sued three Chinese competitors for price-fixing and dumping below-cost solar panels into the United States market.

Energy Conversion Devices’ liquidation trustee John Madden sued Trina Solar Ltd., Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. and Suntech Power Holdings for a total of $950 million, the stated book value of ECD’s assets.

The lawsuit filed last week in federal district court in Detroit says the three companies “conspired to export more than 95 percent of their production, dump their products in the United States at artificially low prices, and achieve market domination.”

ECD alleges the scheme forced its 2012 Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy filing so that its subsidiary United Solar could continue to operate. However, the company was forced to liquidate by a looming bond payment, and the trust led by Madden was set up to recover money for creditors.

A lawsuit filed by shareholders has also alleged Credit Suisse contributed to the company’s demise by its stock trading activity.

Yingli Green released a statement Wednesday from Robert Petrina, managing director of Yingli Green Energy Americas saying the suit was similar to one filed by the bankrupt solar power producer Solyndra a year ago, and that “In both instances, the companies are bankrupt and appear to be blaming others for their own failed thin-film technology and flawed business models. We will continue to aggressively defend ourselves and expect that Yingli will prevail in both cases.”

The United States moved last year to impose tariffs on Chinese-made solar cells, after the Commerce Department determined that Chinese manufacturers had dumped their goods in the U.S. In retaliation, China has imposed tariffs on U.S. and South Korean raw material producers.

ECD, founded in 1961 by prolific inventor Stanford Ovshinsky, once employed 2,500 people and had revenue of more than $1 billion a year.

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