Stimulus recipient under investigation for insider trading

AP

A company awarded $126.2 million in stimulus taxpayer funds from the U. S. Department of Energy is under investigation for insider trading according to a federal subpoena obtained by CBS News.

The company, San Francisco-based Ecotality, makes and installs chargers for electric cars.

The company received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission in October of 2010.

The president of Ecotality North America Don Karner was sent an additional subpoena in December of 2011, which specifically asks for any and all documentation surrounding the public announcement of the first Department of Energy grant to the company for $99.8 million on August 5, 2009.

The government also wants all communication regarding the federal grant from at least four Ecotality employees and two board members including the company's CEO Jonathan Read. Karner was required to supply documents to the SEC by early January.

A company spokesperson told CBS News in an email, "We are cooperating fully with the SEC and have no further disclosures or updates that we are able to provide outside of our public filings."

Ecotality was awarded $99 million in 2009 and an additional $26 million in October 2011. Since the beginning of the grant period in October 2009 the company reported creating 144 jobs according to Recovery.gov .

As part of the $99 million grant, the company is supposed to install 14,000 electric car chargers in five states. To date the company says they have installed 6,400, less than half.

Electric cars are not rolling off production lines at the expected rate and sales have not been as strong as hoped.

The Obama administration's goal was for a million electric cars to be on the road by 2015 but Brett Smith, an expert at the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan, says that number is estimated to be closer to half a million.

The Securities and Exchange Commission would not comment on the subpoena.

Ecotality's stock was trading today at $1.08 down from $5.24 last May.

Editor's note: the original version of this story said the company received a subpoena in December of 2011. The subpoena in December 2011 was sent to the president of the company at his home. The company itself received an SEC subpoena in October 2010.

  • Laura Strickler

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