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HomeNewsLocal newsBVI Firm Wins $10 Million Judgment Against W.Va. Gov., U.S. Senate Candidate

BVI Firm Wins $10 Million Judgment Against W.Va. Gov., U.S. Senate Candidate

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (pictured in September) owes a BVI investment firm more than $10 million, a federal judge said. (Photo courtesy West Virginia Government)

If West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice hopes to win a U.S. Senate seat in 2024, the coal-country Republican will likely need to dig out of more than $10 million he owes a British Virgin Islands-based company.

A Virginia federal judge Friday ordered Bluestone Resources Inc. — one of several coal companies owned by the Justice family — to turn over $10,132,520.20 for failure to pay on outstanding debt to Caroleng Investments Limited.

Western Virginia District Court Judge James P. Jones commanded marshals to seize “goods and chattels, lands and tenements” belonging to Bluestone as well as an additional 9 percent interest since the dispute was to have been settled through arbitration in 2020 and early 2021, according to court documents.

In May, Justice announced he planned to challenge Democrat Joe Manchin for one of West Virginia’s two U.S. Senate seats. Former President Donald Trump won West Virginia by 39 points and Justice is reportedly very popular in his home state.

But seemingly freewheeling business decisions may complicate financial disclosure statements for the two-term governor. Reports from ProPublica and other news organizations have Justice dodging creditors for decades, enduring more than 600 lawsuits in dozens of states. The Wall Street Journal reported the Justice family-owned companies took out $850 million in personally-backed loans from a start-up lender that went bankrupt in 2021. A deal struck in March may reduce the amount owed to the insolvent lender to $620 million.

Bluestone owns coal mines and plants that ready coal for transport. It pulls in enough money to reduce the Justice family debt by $1 million a week, according to the Journal.

The dispute with Caroleng dates from 2015, when the BVI company sold Bluestone some coal-mining land. The deal reportedly required Bluestone to compensate Caroleng if it resold any of the transferred property or assets to a third party. When Justice became governor, he allegedly declined to pay Caroleng for a 2017 land sale — made just 11 days before he took office.

Two courts and the International Chamber of Commerce have sided with Caroleng in the case but as of press time, there was no indication Justice had paid.

Justice has reportedly filed financial disclosure reports required by his U.S. Senate candidacy listing his debts as between $37.5 million and $108 million —  and 138 assets valued at least $1.24 billion, most of which was revenue from and stock in his coal companies, as well as a blind trust worth at least $50 million.

Like many BVI-based companies, a website or phone number for Caroleng Investments Limited was not available.

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