Joaquin Altenberg must pay $1.72 million in legal fees for egregious fraud and misrepresentation


*Alert: update to story here:

Joaquin Altenberg was made liable for $1.72 million in plaintiffs’ legal fees, plus interest based on a court finding of “egregious fraud and misrepresentation” and “serial misconduct” on Altenberg’s part during a lawsuit he lost in Delaware.

The decision let stand findings by the vice chancellor that proceedings against Joaquin Altenberg and Vert Solar Finance LLC “proved that Altenberg breached his fiduciary duty of loyalty” while managing a development fund — Vert Solar Fund I LLC — for midsized solar power projects. He also was found to have “engaged in self-interested transactions, and failed to prove that his actions were entirely fair.”

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Several months after the Chancery Court decision, in December 2020, the vice chancellor approved an order declaring Altenberg liable to the fund for $4.43 million in damages. The figure included nearly $2.4 million in management fees improperly paid to Altenberg-controlled Vert Solar Finance, $1.25 million for funds improperly held by Vert Solar Finance, and additional funds for improperly received development fees and legal fees improperly advanced from the business.

At trial, the court found, “the plaintiffs proved they suffered damages as a result of relying on Altenberg’s false representations.”

The court found that Altenberg and Vert Solar Finance fraudulently induced Home II Investment, OBD Partners and Jefferson to invest in a string of projects backed by Vert Solar Fund I and managed through Vert Solar Finance.

In his opinion after proceedings that included a three-day trial in September 2019, the vice chancellor wrote that Altenberg misled the investors about, among other facts, the flow of funds into Vert Solar Finance and the source of development fees for multiple solar project investments.

“The record contains over 1,500 exhibits and many pages of testimony. Having reviewed it in detail, and having evaluated Altenberg’s demeanor at trial, I have concluded that Altenberg was not a credible witness, nor was he a candid business partner,” the vice chancellor wrote.

The USA Herald had previously reported that Alison Altenberg, the daughter of Leonard Weisman, was also sued for fraud.

Alison Altenberg (left) is the daughter of esteemed Professor Leonard E Weisman (right) of Baylor Medical College and the head of VAX Immune LLC.

Instead of abiding by the purpose of the fund, the lawsuit alleges that Alison Altenberg intentionally defrauded the fund in part by accepting an “Office Manager” role that paid her a high 5-figure salary for duties that she ultimately never performed. The lawsuit alleges that Mrs. Altenberg had no previous experience to qualify for the role of “Office Manager” of a company that had a singular goal to seek and assess solar energy investment opportunities to present to HOMF II fund for approval.

“Defendant’s experience outlined [in the lawsuit] did not qualify her to operate and manage renewable energy development projects. Despite the presumed title of Office Manager, Defendant does not maintain an office at Solar Finance, does not maintain a regular work week schedule (e.g., Monday through Friday, 40 hours a week) to earn her excessive salary, does not maintain or use a Solar Finance e-mail address, has no employees who report to her, has no access to Solar Finance’s Google or Microsoft Office Suite systems, and does not know the names of key employees, their respective titles, or their respective salaries. Indeed, the same key employees do not even know that Solar Finance employed Defendant. Yet, Defendant earns more than some of these full-time employees.”

The lawsuit goes on to allege that Alison Altenberg aided and abedded the breach of fiduciary duties that her husband Joaquin Altenberg owed to the Plaintiff. Finally the lawsuit accuses Mrs. Altenberg of conspiracy to commit fraud against HOMF II.

The full article is here.

At the end of the day, justice was served and Joaquin Altenberg was held liable for his role in the fraudulent scheme that caused his investors to lose millions of dollar. The USA Herald will continue to cover this case and future litigation around it.