US Trustee seeks probe into use of Thornburg assets
* Trustee says information suggests misappropriation
* Creditors committee seeks documents
NEW YORK, Sept 11 (Reuters) - A federal official who oversees bankruptcy cases in Maryland is seeking to probe executives of jumbo mortgage lender Thornburg Mortgage Inc THMRQ.PK after receiving information about a "potential misappropriation" of assets at the lender, court papers show.
Thornburg, which filed for bankruptcy protection in May, was one of the largest casualties of the nation's housing slump and credit crisis as its bankruptcy filing listed $24.4 billion of assets and $24.7 billion of debts.
The U.S. Trustee for the District of Maryland filed court papers on Wednesday seeking to examine Thornburg chief executive Larry Goldstone, chief financial officer Clarence Simmons and corporate communications vice president Amy Pell, based on information it received indicating the company's assets may have been misused.
The company's official committee of unsecured creditors filed a subsequent motion on Thursday seeking to interview Goldstone and Simmons, and obtain documents from SAF Financial Inc, an entity formed by Goldstone and Simmons around the same time of Thornburg's bankruptcy filing. The committee said SAF was formed "without prior disclosure" and "raises a host of questions and concerns" about how Thornburg's assets, employees, professionals and opportunities were used in its creation.
The committee said that, while SAF was formed just days after the company's bankruptcy in May, the committee did not learn of its existence until Aug. 31.
Thornburg, which is now known as TMST Inc and a lawyer representing Goldstone and Simmons did not immediately return calls seeking comment. A call to Pell's office was not immediately returned.
Thornburg once specialized in making home loans larger than $417,000 to borrowers with good credit, but suffered as the value of mortgages it held plummeted and creditors undertook a series of margin calls.
The U.S. Trustee program is a component of the Justice Department. Its primary role is to serve as the "watchdog over the bankruptcy process," according to its website.
Thornburg shares rose one-tenth of a cent to 2.4 cents in Friday trading on the Pink Sheets.
The bankruptcy case is In re TMST Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Maryland (Baltimore), No. 09-17787. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Emily Chasan; additional reporting by Santosh Nadgir in Bangalore; editing by Andre Grenon)
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