Wednesday, March 3, 1999

Wong asks
judge to block
removal bid

The trustee wants Bronster's
request to oust him dropped

By Rick Daysog


Bishop Estate trustee Richard Wong is asking a judge to throw out Attorney General Margery Bronster's requests to permanently and temporarily remove him from the trust's board.

In court papers filed Monday, Wong asked probate Judge Kevin Chang to dismiss Bronster's request for his interim removal, saying Bronster failed to detail specific charges she is pursuing against him. He also asked Chang to dismiss Bronster's permanent removal request on the same ground.

Chang has set a April 30 hearing date on Wong's dismissal motion. Bronster's temporary removal petition is scheduled for hearing on March 29.

Bronster asked the probate court last September to temporarily remove Wong and fellow trustees Henry Peters, Lokelani Lindsey and Gerard Jervis in response to court-appointed master Colbert Matsumoto's harsh criticism of the estate's management.

Echoing Matsumoto's findings, Bronster said trustees engaged in various conflicts of interest, threatened the 114-year-old trust's tax-exempt status and withheld more than $350 million of estate funds from the estate-

run Kamehameha Schools, in apparent violation of the will of the estate's founder, Bernice Pauahi Bishop.

Bronster also asked for the permanent removal of Wong, Peters and Lindsey, alleging that they engaged in a widespread pattern of self-dealing and mismanagement.

Yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Hugh Jones dismissed Wong's filing as a delay tactic that's not supported by the law or the evidence in the case.

"Frankly, it doesn't have any merit," Jones said. "It's a petty procedural maneuver designed to avoid a date with justice."

In a related development, Peters, Lindsey and Jervis filed prehearing statements yesterday in response to Bronster's temporary removal request.

Peters's attorney, Renee Yuen, filed a brief that argued that the attorney general's petitions are based on "flawed" analyses of the estate's operations by Matsumoto and the Arthur Andersen accounting firm.

Yuen said Bishop's will does not forbid accumulation of income. It only requires that the income be spent for the specific purpose of educating children.

What's more, the accumulation of income has not harmed the trust. Accumulating income is prudent and would allow the trust to meet the financial demands of Kamehameha Schools during lean economic times, she said.

Yuen believes that Bronster is biased against the trustees because they don't fit the "corporate template" that she wants installed at the trust. "The evidence will show that this New York, Ivy League newcomer to Hawaii has done more damage than good to the purposes of Ke Alii Pauahi and seeks to do more," Yuen wrote.

Ronald Sakamoto, Jervis's attorney, said Jervis, who was named to the board in 1994, should not be removed because he was not a trustee when many of the violations alleged by Bronster took place.

According to Sakamoto, Jervis has worked hard to expand Kamehameha Schools educational programs and has attempted to resolve the controversy surrounding the Kapalama Heights campus. "Rather than causing harm, trustee Jervis has prevented harm and his service has benefited Kamehameha Schools/

Bishop Estate," Sakamoto said.

Lindsey said she does not have a conflict of interest relating to trust matters and has not hidden any of the estate's assets from the state probate court.

Michael Green, Lindsey's lawyer, argued that removal of a trustee is a severe action that should be sought only when a trust's assets are in jeopardy.

Estate’s Wong
testifies in
Lindsey trial

Bishop Estate chairman Richard "Dickie" Wong took the witness stand today in the trial to remove trustee Lokelani Lindsey from the 114-year-old trust's board of directors.

Wong, appearing before Circuit Judge Bambi Weil, was expected to testify about the responsibilities and authorities the full board delegated to Lindsey when she became the lead trustee for educational programs for the trust.

Fellow trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis are seeking to oust Lindsey from the multi-billion-dollar estate's five-member board, alleging that she breached her fiduciary duties, undermined popular school president Michael Chun's authority and intimidated teachers and students.

Lindsey has denied Stender's and Jervis's allegations as rumor and innuendo.

She said the board authorized her to take steps to improve educational programs at the Kapalama Heights campus.

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