Wednesday, August 4, 1999

Peters asks for
congressional help

By Rick Daysog


Lawyers for ousted Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters are appealing to congressional investigators to intervene with his dispute with the Internal Revenue Service.

But one state attorney sees the move as an attempt to circumvent the exhaustive IRS investigation into the multibillion-dollar charitable trust and its board members.

In court documents filed yesterday, Peters' California-based tax attorney, Robert Schriebman, said he contacted the chief investigator for the Senate Finance Committee, Bruce Strauss, about "several potential areas of IRS taxpayer abuse" in the IRS audit of the Bishop Estate.

According to Schriebman, Strauss said he would consider bringing Peters' grievances to the Taxpayer Advocate for the IRS, which investigates such complaints. Strauss, who reviewed several of the IRS' preliminary findings, expressed concerns about "possible inappropriateness" of the IRS actions, Schriebman noted.

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. William Roth (R, Del.), last year held several high-profile hearings into IRS abuses that led to stringent reforms.

The IRS has threatened to revoke the estate's tax-exempt status unless trustees Peters, Richard "Dickie" Wong, Oswald Stender, Lokelani Lindsey and Gerard Jervis are removed permanently from their $1 million-a-year posts.

Based on the threat, Probate Judge Kevin Chang on May 7 temporarily removed four of the trustees and accepted Stender's voluntary resignation. Chang also appointed five interim trustees as replacements and gave the new board and the state attorney general's office 90 days to seek the permanent removal of the ousted board members.

Peters' attorney Renee Yuen said he hopes to keep the congressional committee informed about what she called "improper conduct" by the IRS.

Yuen believes the IRS violated Peters' due process rights in calling for his removal without a full evidentiary hearing. She believes that the interim board is bowing to the threats of the IRS, harming the estate's interests in the process.

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