The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 1, 2014

Odd couple at center of Russian helicopter inquiry


"I trust that your team (AviaBaltika Ltd., JSC Motor Sich) is up to the challenge to bring this much needed engine capability" to Afghanistan, Vergez wrote in an August 2012 memo to Ralph Pallotta, chief operating officer at Science and Engineering Services.

But the plan stalled after Vergez retired. Only two engines have been acquired so far.

Science and Engineering Services has not been contacted by federal investigators and has no reason to believe it is the subject of any inquiry, Pallotta said.

Shortly after Vergez hung up his Army fatigues, he went to the work for the private equity firm Patriarch Partners as the senior vice president for commercial aerospace operations.

That move is under scrutiny too.

Patriarch is owned by Lynn Tilton, who bills herself as the business world's turnaround queen. She buys struggling companies and attempts to make them profitable.

Among the properties in Patriarch's portfolio is MD helicopters, a manufacturer of commercial and military rotorcraft in Mesa, Ariz. Vergez's office had awarded MD Helicopters a contract in March 2011 potentially worth $186 million for copters to train Afghan air force pilots.

Most federal officials are bound by rules they must abide by when they leave government to take private sector jobs. That includes a one-year ban against receiving compensation from a contractor they had dealings with while employed by the government.

At Patriarch, Vergez not only reconnected with both Borisovs, he introduced them to Tilton at last year's Paris Air Show, the global aviation industry's preeminent networking event.

Vergez escorted her to a lunch at Borisov's chalet on the grounds of the sprawling Le Bourget Exhibition Centre, according to a copy of Tilton's itinerary.

They had dinner the following night at Le Copenhague, an elegant Scandinavian-themed restaurant on the Champs Elysees.

Patriarch spokesman Davidson Goldin declined to respond to questions about Vergez's hiring or the Paris Air Show.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news