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Wednesday, May 24, 2000

Aipa takes time
out while estate
probe continues

The top operating officer at
Kamehameha Schools steps aside
until the investigation ends

By Rick Daysog


Nathan Aipa, the Kamehameha Schools' chief operating officer and former head of the trust's legal division, has taken an administrative leave of absence.

In a one-page letter to trust employees yesterday, Aipa said he is stepping down voluntarily pending completion of an internal investigation into the role of estate employees in the three-year trust controversy.

"When the credibility of a member of the executive management team has been shaken by events such as these, I firmly believe that it is in the best interests of Kamehameha Schools that I take this course of action at this time," Aipa said. His letter cited last week's report by court-appointed special master Robert Richards, which cast a cloud over Aipa's former role as the trust's top in-house lawyer.

The Richards report said that several of the estate's outside lawyers -- whose work was supervised by Aipa -- represented the personal interests of the embattled former trustees at the expense of the estate.

The report also alleged that two firms -- Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright, and McCorriston Miho Miller Mukai -- took part in an effort to intimidate critics of former majority trustees Henry Peters, Richard "Dickie" Wong and Lokelani Lindsey.

The $6 billion charitable trust on Friday suspended several of its outside law firms. The firms have denied wrongdoing.

Aipa, 47, served as the trust's general counsel until May 1999, when the interim board appointed him the trust's first chief operating officer. In the year ended June 30, 1999, he earned $196,595, making him the trust's highest-paid executive.

The estate's interim board, which approved Aipa's leave request, stressed that his decision should not be considered an indictment of wrongdoing. The board said its investigation will be conducted in a fair and impartial manner by an independent party.

Aipa said he will cooperate with the inquiry and noted that the trust in the past several months has made great strides toward expanding its educational mission and implementing a new governance structure.

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