Former SemGroup Officials Respond To Bankruptcy Report

Monday, April 27th 2009, 4:07 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- An independent investigation blamed Tom Kivisto for the fall of Tulsa energy giant SemGroup.  Now, the company's co-founder is firing back.  Kivisto's attorney say it wasn't risky trading that brought down the multi-billion dollar company.

Tom Kivisto has stayed pretty mum since the fall of the company he founded, making only one public appearance since last summer.  But, he's been publicly blamed for SemGroup's demise in a recent investigation.  Now his lawyer has come out swinging.

"This is the first time we've had something concrete to say this is nonsense," said Kivisto attorney John Tucker.

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh's firm was hired to investigate what brought the energy giant down.  They filed a 267-page report with a Delaware bankruptcy court accusing Kivisto of using SemGroup money to fund his other businesses, reaping multi-million dollar bonuses and even walking away with company artwork.  It also says Kivisto pursued a risky trading strategy that gambled away the company's future. 

His attorney says that's not what drove SemGroup into bankruptcy.

"The problem that caused SemGroup to be unable to operate was that the Bank of America terminated his credit line," said Kivisto attorney John Tucker.

Tucker says Bank of America, the company's lead lender, yanked SemGroup's credit line prematurely.  And, that turned paper losses into real losses worth billions.  Tucker says if the bank had stuck with the company until oil prices went back down, they could have weathered the storm.

He says other oil companies with similar trading strategies prove the point.

"Chevron didn't have its credit line pulled by its banking institution so Chevron continued on as one of America's more successful oil companies," said Kivisto attorney John Tucker.

Tucker also points out the so-called risky strategy slammed in the examiner's report was cleared in an independent report paid for by Bank of America.

"The report that was done by the specialist for the Bank of America says just the opposite," said Kivisto attorney John Tucker.

More than misdeeds, the examiner's report also accuses Kivisto of misconduct with at least two women:  one a trader with little experience, the other a restaurant owner who Kivisto's accused of using SemGroup money to jumpstart her business.

"I think that that trash doesn't bear any relationship to what's going on," said Kivisto attorney John Tucker.

Tom Kivisto's attorney doesn't feel like the report was the unbiased look at the downfall of SemGroup it was supposed to be.  He says media reports link Louis Freeh's company to Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.

The man, who wants to buy SemGroup, John Castimatidis, says Goldman drove up the price of oil last summer, squeezing SemGroup out of business.  

4/16/2009 Related story: Investigation Faults Founders Of Tulsa's SemGroup

Read Louis Freeh's report.

Read Thomas Kivisto's response.