Blake Miguez, Acadiana’s newest legislator, staring at budget abyss _lowres

Blake Miguez

State Rep. Blake Miguez’s family business is in jeopardy after it allegedly defaulted on a multimillion-dollar loan that originated with First NBC Bank, which collapsed last year.

The succeeding note holder, a Denver-based limited liability company, is now moving to seize two offshore supply vessels owned by Iberia Marine Service, which Miguez’s father founded more than four decades ago. The foreclosures could force the company to dissolve, according to court filings.

Iberia Marine took the $22.5 million loan in September 2015 as Miguez, R-Erath, campaigned for reelection to the seat he initially won in a special election earlier that year. Miguez garnered more than 80 percent of the vote in both elections, and his current term ends next year.

Miguez served as president of Iberia Marine, and is now the chief executive of SeaTran Marine, a joint-venture that includes Iberia Marine. SeaTran bills itself on its website as the largest company of its kind on the Gulf Coast, with 19 vessels. The website trumpets its leader’s status as a state lawmaker.

Miguez’s father, Steven Miguez, personally guaranteed the First NBC loan, according to a business loan agreement filed in court records. The loan was secured with eight vessels, two of which are subject to federal foreclosure proceedings in Louisiana and California. They include the largest in SeaTran's fleet, the 205-foot Mr. Steven, as well as the 172-foot Lady Eve.

Iberia Marine relies on revenue from Mr. Steven to stay in business, and seizure of the boat “will definitely terminate all agreements and bareboat charters,” Steven Miguez said in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy declaration. That would force the company to dissolve, according to the declaration.

A lawyer for SeaTran, Stewart Peck, emphasized that neither that company nor Blake Miguez are defendants on any of the claims involving the loan. Iberia Marine, however, is a member of the SeaTran corporate entity, according to state records. 

Peck said he could not comment the Steven Miguez's bankruptcy declaration suggesting the foreclosure would force Iberia Marine to dissolve. 

"We have other vessels than the ones getting seized," Peck said. "We are going to work it out."

In addition to the foreclosures, the note holder — a company called SBN V FNBC LLC — is also suing Steven Miguez individually in a case that was moved to New Orleans federal court last week after a Jefferson Parish state court filing in February.

SBN claims Steven Miguez, as the guarantor, owes about $23.5 million in principal and interest, and that Iberia Marine paid only 2 percent of the principal before stopping its monthly payments in June 2017. Plaintiffs accuse Steven Miguez of delaying the lawsuit against him “for as long as humanly possible,” and using his son’s legislative responsibilities as a stall tactic.

Blake Miguez was previously enrolled as his father’s counsel of record, but he was replaced when the case moved to federal court.

SBN purchased the Iberia Marine loan in October last year from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which seized New Orleans-based First NBC six months prior. Iberia Marine allegedly stopped making payments about two months after the bank collapsed, while the note was still held by the FDIC.

Blake Miguez and Steven Miguez did not return calls for comment on Monday.

Acadiana business today: Erath lawmaker's family business in jeopardy over loan; Gulfgate Contstruction among 6 Acadiana businesses to make LSU's top 100

Follow Ben Myers on Twitter, @blevimyers.