St. Paul Port Authority’s complicated court case continues

The long-running, complex saga of investments gone bad at the St. Paul Port Authority enters another phase this week with more arguments in a civil lawsuit.

The case dates to investments in the 1970s that went bust in the 1980s. It’s been in the courts ever since, and David Orrick in the Pioneer Press has a good explainer today that indicates a ruling against the Port Authority could mean major, major problems for the agency.

Everyone agrees the investors are owed more than $50 million from the now-insolvent fund, which provided money for 139 projects “from much of the Energy Park development in the Como Park neighborhood to Landmark Towers, the downtown building where the Port Authority is headquartered,” the paper said.

The Port Authority say it would be impossible to repay all the money, “because interest on the debt outstrips the 876 Fund’s revenue by more than $1 million a year. Like a credit card customer never able to make even the minimum payment, the agency would be making ‘perpetual payments’ to the investors, according to an agency briefing,” the paper said.

But the investors’ lawyer “scoffed at the notion that his clients are trying to extort a perpetual payout.”

Today the investors are asking Ramsey County Judge Robert A. Awsumb to continue placing money for the investors in a fund, while the Port Authority wants the case thrown out.

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