JEFFERSON CITY - The House Government Oversight Committee released documents at a Tuesday hearing show that administration staffers had realized the potential financial problems of a Chinese company whose failure has left a $40 million bond issue debt in Moberly.
At the same time the Missouri Department of Economic Development was seeking a town to invest in the China-based artificial sweetener Mamtek in April 2010, the department's International Business Manager Yan Li wrote in an e-mail to the department's Chinese consultant in Shanghai that they cannot get any of Mamtek's financial background and asked for more information.
"We cannot get any of their finance background," Yan Li wrote April 9, 2010 to the director of the department's office in China.
The China office director, Edward Li, replied that they found Mamtek's "plant in Fujian Province, China, never started to manufacture."
Just days earlier, Moberly reported it was one of several communities selected by the state agency for consideration for the Mamtek project. On April 30, Mamtek selected Moberly for its factory.
Both Moberly officials and representatives of a company that handled the $40 million bond issue for China told the committee they had not been known about the administration concerns. They said they might not have proceeded had the known about the internal administration emails.
Moberly Area Economic Development Corporation President Corey Mehaffy told the committee that the city could not afford to send representatives to China and check the company's condition. Mehaffy said he verified Mamtek's information with the company's own attorney.
Mehaffy said their corporation is having ongoing conversations with other manufactures now to fill in the facilities, but the Department of Economic Development isn't helping.
The committee chairman Rep. Jay Barnes said the director of the Department of Economic Development needs to "stop what they are doing right now and make filling that factory in Moberly their top priority."
After the testimony, Yan Li said he cannot remember the e-mails last year. He has to go back and check his file before he could provide more information.