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Judge: Clarke cannot represent himself as owner

Tom Clarke

A federal judge said Tom Clarke can no longer represent himself as the owner of Mesabi Metallics and Chippewa Capital Partners.

In a preliminary injunction issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Schiltz sided with Nubai Global Investment in a dispute over who's in control of Mesabi Metallics, which is trying to finish a taconite mine and processing center and also build an iron plant near Nashwauk, and Chippewa Capital Partners, its parent company.

Both Nubai and Clarke have claimed ownership and management of the companies since July 23.

However, Schiltz said "it is very likely that Nubai will succeed in proving that" they are the sole owner of Chippewa and have been since June 1 and that Clarke was removed by Nubai on July 23.

"Clarke has no authority whatsoever to act on behalf of Chippewa or Mesabi," Schiltz wrote.

Now, Clarke can't represent himself as an employee for Chippewa or Mesabi or interact on behalf of those companies with state agencies. He must also turn in any usernames, passwords and property belonging to Mesabi and Chippewa by Monday evening. Schiltz argued it was best to have Clarke step aside as keeping him on in any role could damage Nubai.

"The Court further finds that Nubai will suffer irreparable harm if Clarke is not enjoined from continuing to purport to act on behalf of Chippewa and Mesabi," Schiltz wrote.

Clarke declined to comment on any ongoing litigation and a representative of Nubai did not respond to request for comment by the News Tribune on Friday. But in a declaration of opposition filed Aug. 8, Clarke maintained that he removed the Nubai board members after the firm failed to pay $91 million of a $250 million payment.

Chippewa took over the former Essar site near Nashwauk in June 2017, pulling it out of bankruptcy in December 2017 and earning back key mineral leases from the state just last month.

In a separate case, Clarke could lose control of his other mining venture in Minnesota, ERP Iron Ore, which has filed for bankruptcy and Clarke intends to scrap. ERP's creditors hope to replace Clarke with a trustee.

Jimmy Lovrien

Jimmy Lovrien is a reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. He spent the summer of 2015 as an intern for the Duluth News Tribune and was hired full time in October 2017 as a reporter for the Weekly Observer. He also reported for the Lake County News-Chronicle in 2017-18. Lovrien grew up in Alexandria, Minn., but moved to Duluth in 2013 to attend The College of St. Scholastica. Lovrien graduated from St. Scholastica in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in English and history. He also spent a summer studying journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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