Former Westinghouse exec charged with conspiracy, fraud over Summer fiasco

August 23, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Benjamin

A federal grand jury has indicted a former Westinghouse Electric Company executive for allegedly concealing information regarding progress (or, more accurately, lack of progress) on the now defunct multibillion-dollar expansion project at the Summer nuclear plant.

Jeffrey A. Benjamin, who served as Westinghouse’s senior vice president for new plants and major products during the effort to build two AP1000 reactors at the Jenkinsville, S.C., facility, has been charged with 16 felony counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, and causing a publicly traded company to keep a false record, according to an August 18 news release from the U.S. States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina. The charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $5 million fine.

Former SCANA CEO pleads guilty to fraud

March 1, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The latest episode in the continuing saga of the failed nuclear expansion project at South Carolina’s Summer plant played out in federal court last week when the former chief executive officer of SCANA, Kevin Marsh, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud. According to the state attorney general’s office, Marsh will serve two years of a 10-year sentence, followed by three years of probation, provided he continues to cooperate with prosecutors. Marsh will also part with $5 million, which is to be used to help low-income ratepayers with their utility bills.

“This case is a good example of the power of our state grand jury and how our office uses it to hold the powerful accountable,” said South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson. “While this criminal proceeding is not meant to repay the customers who spent billions of dollars on nuclear plants that were never finished, we hope they take some comfort from the fact that the former CEO of SCANA has pled guilty for his role in this debacle. A public utility and its officers must serve the public.”

Dominion to pay $25-million civil penalty in SEC case

December 8, 2020, 12:05PMNuclear News

Dominion Energy has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $25 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission against SCANA Corporation and subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) regarding SCANA’s involvement in the failed Summer nuclear expansion project. Virginia-based Dominion acquired SCANA in January 2019.

Dominion disclosed in May that it had reached an “agreement in principle” with the staff of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement to settle the case for the above-stated amount.

The final agreement, which at this writing is still subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, also calls for the payment of $112.5 million in “disgorgement plus prejudgment interest.” This penalty, however, will be deemed satisfied by SCANA and SCE&G’s settlement payments in related rate payer and shareholder litigation.

Former SCANA exec pleads guilty in Summer fraud case

July 27, 2020, 9:59AMNuclear News

Stephen A. Byrne, former executive vice president of SCANA Corporation, pleaded guilty in federal court on July 23 to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with the failed $9-billion nuclear-expansion project at South Carolina’s Summer plant.

Byrne, 60, had also been president of generation and transmission and chief operating officer at SCANA subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas, overseeing all of SCANA’s nuclear operations, including the construction of the new nuclear units, on which work was stopped in 2017 (NN, Aug. 2017, p. 17).

Santee Cooper, Dominion agree to pay $520 million in Summer suit

July 23, 2020, 9:28AMNuclear News

A circuit court judge on July 20 gave final approval to a $520-million settlement in a class action civil suit brought against Santee Cooper over alleged deceptive business practices involving the failed nuclear-expansion project at South Carolina’s Summer plant.

Santee Cooper was the junior partner to SCANA Corporation’s South Carolina Electric and Gas in the two-reactor project, which was canceled in July 2017 (NN, Aug. 2017, p. 17). In July 2019, SCANA became a wholly owned subsidiary of Virginia-based Dominion Energy (NN, Feb. 2019, p. 15).

According to the lawsuit, brought by ratepayers, Santee Cooper raised rates to cover the increasing costs of the Summer expansion even after becoming aware that the project was no longer viable.