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Wednesday, May 26, 1999


Debt-dodging
tenant foils Kailua
landlord

The manager of the church-
owned property has been unable to
get $400,000 in back rent

By Peter Wagner
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

Frank Cornwell rues the day he signed over a 10-year lease on a Kailua commercial property to a tenant who won't pay.

"We're in a vise," said Cornwell, caught between the landlord and a tenant who owes more than $400,000 in back rent and other lease obligations.

Cornwell is president of the Western Adventists Foundation, which manages properties for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

The church, owner of a master lease on Kailua Town Center, last year sublet the property to Capital Resources International Ltd. The company is among a handful of enterprises operated at the nearly vacant complex by Windward entrepreneur Norman Frank.

But Frank, who has paid little rent since moving into the 100,000-square-foot complex March 1998, has been tough to nail down.

Capital Resources on Friday missed the lastest of several court-stipulated deadlines to make good on its debts, totaling $460,000 -- money the church owes to landowner Kaneohe Ranch Co.

"I know he's taken advantage of us," said Cromwell. "He's taken advantage of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Hawaii."

Frank has not returned repeated calls by the Star-Bulletin and yesterday could not be reached for comment.

Cromwell said he believes Frank is manipulating bankruptcy laws to dodge his debts. He notes Capital Resources filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January on the day $180,000 in back rent was due under an earlier court agreement. And he notes Frank recently filed for personal bankruptcy under Chapter 13 of the federal code when another court-stipulated deadline to either buy his Maunawili home or leave came due.

Under an agreement reached in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Capital Resources was to have paid $460,000 in back rent and other obligations at Kailua Town Center or vacate by last Friday.

The figure includes $220,000 in back rent and $240,000 toward $600,000 in repairs Frank agreed to make to the property under his lease.

But Friday came and went without word from Frank, whose companies yesterday continued to occupy the complex.

An attorney for the church said he will likely seek eviction. But the church has been frustrated in efforts to evict Frank since last year.

Sued by the church in September for nonpayment of rent, Capital Resources agreed to pay $180,000 by Jan. 11 or vacate the property. The company instead filed for bankruptcy the day payment was due.

When the church subsequently sought eviction in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Frank agreed to pay $460,000 in rent and repairs by last Friday or vacate.

Attorney Enver Painter, representing Capital Resources in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, last week told the Star-Bulletin that the company would meet its obligations by the Friday deadline. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Frank, who for years operated out of his Maunawili home, moved into the nearly vacant commercial complex in March 1998. He claims to have contracts with the government of Azerbaijan to clean up oil spills in the far-eastern former Soviet republic. Painter last month said his client was close to obtaining major financing for the oil deal. Trans-Oceanic International, another of Frank's companies, is said to be negotiating a $112 million financing package with investors in New Zealand and England.



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