West Virginia governor sues Greensill over $700m debt

The Republican governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice, has revealed he is personally liable for hundreds of millions of dollars in loans taken out by his coalmining companies.

In a new court filing on Friday, Justice blamed the collapsed UK- and Australia-based Greensill bank, which has controversial ties to the former British prime minister David Cameron, for $700m of his debt.

Greensill made its profits by guaranteeing loans and providing cash advances. It collapsed in March, leaving Justice liable for the loans in question.

The same month, the Republican sued Greensill in federal court in New York, alleging that Greensill “perpetrated a continuous and highly profitable fraud” by hiding its own financial risk.

Justice sought loans from Greensill in 2018, as his Bluestone coal company declined after a spell under the ownership of a Russian company.

“When the Russians had Bluestone, what happened to Bluestone? It absolutely just melted down to nothing,” Justice told reporters this week.

The latest filing in the case shows that the governor and his wife, Cathy Justice, and son Jay Justice personally guaranteed payment on the loans for Bluestone.

The Justice family said it took on the loans with the understanding that repayments would not be due until 2023. Justice and his companies are now seeking damages from Greensill.

In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority launched a formal investigation into Greensill after allegations of fraud and criminal activity.

Cameron has come under intense scrutiny over his lobbying for Greensill. He has denied any wrongdoing. In late May the British chancellor, Rishi Sunak, denied giving special treatment to the now-collapsed bank following an intensive campaign by Cameron.

Justice is also responsible for a $368m debt to the Virginia-based Carter Bank & Trust. Additionally, his companies could owe $3.2m in federal penalties and lawsuits over claims they failed to deliver coal.

Forbes recently took Justice off its list of billionaires. The governor called the loans “a burden on our family beyond belief”.


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