Last week, Reuters reported that the federal Justice Department official overseeing the bankruptcy, as well as the company's creditors, are examining "potential misappropriation" of assets by Thornburg Mortgage executives related to their new venture, SAF Financial Inc.
Court filings say the new company was founded by Thornburg Mortgage CEO Larry Goldstone and CFO Clarence Simmons. Sources tell SFR Goldstone (pictured) and several other fomer Thornburg Mortgage employees left the company last week, and that an emergency board meeting has been scheduled for this week.
In July, SFR reported how high-ups at Thornburg Mortgage had begun quietly planning for a new venture as their company entered bankruptcy.
Creditors' co-counsel Alan Grochal tells SFR the investigation into the new company is a "detour" from the bankruptcy proceedings, but could have serious consequences.
"I've seen these things where it turns out to be much ado about nothing. I've seen others where there was a whole other scam," Grochal says. "If it is established that corporate assets were being used and expended for a purpose that had nothing to do with helping the debtor company operate, there could be some criminal repercussions."
An email to Suzanne O'Learly Lopez, former spokeswoman Thornburg Mortgage, was referred to Kerri Segell, who would not comment. Someone responding to Lopez' email said she is no longer with the company.
What follows are notes from SFR's bizarre conversation with Segell.
SFR: You are the spokeswoman now?
Segell: Not at all. Just as time goes by, there’s fewer and fewer people here. There’s only a couple of us who are answering at the main phone. That’s why [Suzanne] gave out my name and number. As I understand it, there’s no comment to be made. On what?
On anything. Is Larry Goldstone still with the company?
Again, no comment. Do you have a title?
Mmmm—I would prefer not to give you that information. I am employed by TMST [what used to be Thornburg Mortgage]. Is Suzanne still there, working for another Thornburg entity?
No, no. So there’s no one who can answer questions about anything?
That is my understanding. Is that because the Reuters story implied there are potential criminal liabilities here?
I want to stay on the phone with you, but… I’m sorry they hung out someone to answer for this who can’t even give out her title.
It’s not a good situation.