Jonathan Silver, head of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office and man in charge of giving now-bankrupt solar panel firm Solyndra a $535 million loan, is reportedly stepping down.
According to Fox News, DOE confirmed the decision on Thursday. Silver now plans to join the organization Third Way as a "distinguished visiting fellow."
The report adds:
The career change comes in the middle of heavy scrutiny from Congress over the department's of the Solyndra agreement. Documents that have emerged over the past month show officials were warned about potential problems with the company as it sought government help.
But the president on Thursday defended the Energy Department's vetting. And Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement that Silver's departure was expected.
Chu alleges that Silver informed him in July of his planned return to the private sector. Chu stated:
"Since he joined the Department in November 2009, Jonathan assembled and managed a truly outstanding team that has transformed the program into the world leader in financing innovative clean energy projects. Under his leadership, the loan program has demonstrated considerable success, with a broad portfolio of investments that will help American companies compete in the global clean energy market."
"Because of my absolute confidence in Jonathan and the outstanding work he has done, I would welcome his continued service at the Department, but I completely understand the decision he has made," he added.
Solyndra, the firm touted by President Obama as a model for success, declared bankruptcy, laying off its 1,100 employees. The FBI and the GOP-led House Energy and Commerce Committee have since launched investigations into the company.
Despite the firm's failure, however, Obama asserts the loan guarantee program has created jobs.