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Blackjewel asks bankruptcy court permission to make payments on $146M in taxes

Blackjewel LLC is seeking permission from the bankruptcy court to make payments on about $146 million in taxes that accrued and were not paid before the company filed for bankruptcy.

The coal miner filed an order July 9 asking the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to authorize but not require the company to pay taxes at its sole discretion. Blackjewel is operating under a temporary $5.0 million bankruptcy financing package that came with the stipulation that CEO Jeffery Hoops was required to resign after Hoops' own attempts to secure financing for the company fell through.

The company reported paying $23.5 million in severance taxes in 2018, but estimate that $120 million is due and owed to various governmental authorities. The company also reported owing $9.7 million in coal excise taxes, $500,000 in environmental and safety fees, $100,000 in use taxes, $7 million in property taxes, $125,000 in franchise taxes and $10.1 million in other taxes and fees.

Blackjewel also requested permission to establish adequate assurance procedures for maintaining its utilities and insurance services.

The same day, the debtors asked the bankruptcy court to move the venue of the court-supervised restructuring from Huntington, W.Va., to Charleston, W.Va., and requested permission to employ the professional services of investment banker Jefferies LLC; restructuring advisors FTI Consulting Inc. the law offices of Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP and Supple Law Office PLLC; and others.

An employee with the company recently filed a class-action lawsuit alleging violations of federal laws regarding employment notices and several employees reported to various media outlets that checks from the company bounced after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy July 1.