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Justice authorized drama turns into farce

It’s no secret Jim Justice’s funds are a large number. They’ve been the topic of reporting  and court docket circumstances since earlier than Justice grew to become governor of West Virginia. And so they’ve at all times come throughout as one thing between a drama and a tragedy: failing empires, shady offers and the “little man” left frolicked to dry.

However currently they’ve appeared extra like a farcical comedy. Take, for instance, the latest court-ordered repossession of a Justice firm helicopter as collateral for unpaid money owed.

Prologue: In Could 2009, Justice offered the household’s coal belongings in Bluestone Assets to Russia-based Mechel for $436 million in money and 83.3 million most well-liked shares of Mechel inventory. In 2015, Justice purchased the mines again for $5 million plus an settlement to pay Mechel’s mother or father firm, Caroleng Investments Restricted, a royalty of $3 per ton of mined coal, plus a portion of future gross sales. Unsurprisingly, Justice and his household didn’t maintain up their finish of the cut price. Caroleng sued.

Act 1: October 2019, two years into Justice’s tenure as West Virginia’s governor, the Worldwide Chamber of Commerce arbitrated the case in Paris, as Brad McElhinny reported, and its panel awarded Caroleng $8.4 million plus curiosity. The debt was not paid.

Act 2: On June 7, 2021, a U.S. federal court docket reaffirmed Bluestone Assets owed the $8.4 million judgment, plus pre- and post- award curiosity, now totaling near $13 million. The debt was nonetheless not paid.

Act 3: On Oct. 5, 2023, a distinct federal court docket ordered U.S. marshals to grab a 2009 Bell helicopter, owned by Bluestone and saved in Virginia, to fulfill, partially, the debt owed to Caroleng. (Off-stage, the helicopter is moved from the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport in Virginia to Burlington, N.C.)

Act 4: Bluestone attorneys file an objection to the seizure, saying, “If a [British Virgin Islands] firm managed by a Russian oligarch is allowed to grab the helicopter, Bluestone’s secured collectors … will likely be irreparably harmed.” These “secured collectors” embody $800 million in legal responsibility ($700 million personally assured by Justice) by means of the now-defunct Greensill Capital, whose accounts have been most just lately taken over by UBS Group AG.

That is the place what would have been one other authorized drama in Justice’s lengthy saga turns into farce. As a result of Bluestone’s attorneys principally mentioned, “You possibly can’t give this helicopter to a Russian oligarch, as a result of our consumer owes far more cash to different worldwide firms. If something, they need to get first dibs on the helicopter.”

Actuality really is stranger than fiction; a play might by no means pull off such a pointy flip into the absurd.  It will be humorous if this didn’t contain the chief of our state, somebody who can also be hoping to signify us on the nationwide stage.

Justice often calls this type of protection a “political assault,” however Justice introduced scrutiny upon himself when he ran for public workplace. We anticipate — and the legislation requires — a specific amount of transparency. As long as he continues to pursue politics, Justice’s monetary entanglements will proceed to be issues of public curiosity and report. Which suggests we’ll all be aware of how this performs out in Act 5.