Wong insists two
trustees not left out
The Bishop Estate chairmanBy Gordon Y.K. Pang
answers Stender and Jervis
Bishop Estate business would halt if all five trustees had to be present for every decision, the board chairman said.
Chairman Richard "Dickie" Wong yesterday filed an objection in Circuit Court to a legal request by two of the trustees, Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis, seeking access to all estate information.
The pair allege information is being kept from them and that decisions affecting Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate are being made without their input.
The allegations are denied by Wong and William McCorriston, hired by the five as estate legal counsel. Attorney General Margery Bronster, the Internal Revenue Service and others are looking into charges of trustee mismanagement.
Stender and Jervis want all five trustees to have "reasonable notice and an opportunity for discussion" before any decision-making or voting.
"We agree with much of what they ask for," said Philip R. Brown, Wong's attorney.
"Every trustee should have access to all the information. The problem is that the relief they request is so drastic we're afraid it would halt business."
Brown said it's common for three or four trustees to meet while others are out of town. "Today, Wong, Jervis and Stender met to decide various business-related issues even though trustees (Henry) Peters and (Lokelani) Lindsey were out state," he said.
Wong acknowledges one instance when Stender and Jervis weren't consulted -- when the other three needed to decide immediately whether to have McCorriston proceed on a filing for an injunction.
Stender and Jervis were told the details several days later and did not object, Brown said.
Brown said trustees, who chair committees dealing with particular areas of the estate, sometimes make decisions on their own and then report to the full board later.
Another criticism raised by Stender and Jervis was that McCorriston has kept information from them and acted only at the behest of Wong, Lindsey and Peters.
McCorriston said he doesn't know what Stender and Jervis are charging he is hiding from them.
The trustees have agreed to use a contact person to mete out the direction he should take, he said.
"I have followed these procedures to a T," McCorriston said. "Had they wanted to know any of the legal positions, they have complete access to all that, to all papers prepared."
He said he believes Stender's attorneys "are making something up for some ulterior purpose, and I'm quite disappointed such a suggestion has been made."
Stender attorney Crystal Rose could not be reached late yesterday.
"I was hired by all five trustees, so I was told," said McCorriston, saying he tries to follow the direction of all five. "Obviously there is a power struggle going on right now." If all five don't agree, he needs to abide by the direction of three, he said.
McCorriston said he has not been asked by any one trustee to follow certain instructions but noted that Rose, Stender's attorney, recently asked if she could sit in on a board meeting of trustees. Her request was denied.
State seeks to force
Lindsey to appear
The Bishop Estate trustee insists thatBy Gordon Y.K. Pang
she be allowed to have two lawyers present
Despite legal wrangling delaying her subpoenaed appearance before the state attorney general, Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey wants to give statements to the investigation, according to her attorney, William Harrison. She just wants two lawyers with her during questioning, he said.
As evidence of Lindsey's sincerity, Harrison gave reporters copies of an affidavit that he said Lindsey intended to present to state attorneys.
In it, she defends the use of Bishop Estate employees to help her gain a boundary permit for her Hauula home from the city in 1994. Lindsey states that she and an uncle bought the land, which her family had leased since 1956, in 1984 from Bishop Estate.
Lindsey, a trustee since 1992, said that when she approached estate officials about reimbursement for the work, she was told that such work was typically done as a public service for grantors of land from the estate.
Lindsey said she recently repaid the money, reportedly several thousand dollars, to avoid an appearance of impropriety.
Meanwhile, state attorneys today are expected to file a motion with Circuit Judge Kevin Chang to compel Lindsey to appear before them under threat of contempt.
"The bottom line is she is going to have to give a statement one day," said Cynthia Quinn, special assistant to Attorney General Margery Bronster.
Harrison yesterday filed a motion on Lindsey's behalf asking Chang to allow Seattle attorney Dawson Taylor to take part in business involving state attorneys. That motion will be heard Dec. 4.
Harrison argues in the motion that District Court rules allow witnesses in civil cases to take two attorneys to hearings. Revised statutes state that attorney general investigations are to be conducted in a manner similar to court proceedings, he adds.
"This is not a District Court case," Quinn told the Star-Bulletin in response.
"Those rules don't apply. This is an ongoing investigation. The court even made a finding that this is the most preliminary part of the information-gathering stage."
Lindsey's visit to Bronster's office Monday lasted just two minutes when she showed up flanked by Harrison and Taylor.
Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Goya said his office had asked her to bring only one attorney and refused to allow Taylor to take part. They left.
Bronster, investigating allegations of trustee mismanagement of the $10 billion estate, says that two Lindsey attorneys will only confuse the issue and that the trustee is in contempt of court.
Both sides like decisionBy Gordon Y.K. Pang
to protect some records
The attorney general's office and the attorney for Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate are both satisfied with an order from Circuit Judge Kevin Chang to keep some estate records protected from scrutiny.
Attorney General Margery Bronster has subpoenaed estate records as part of her investigation into allegations of trustee mismanagement.
KS/BE attorney William McCorriston sought to block a number of those documents from state attorneys and the public.
Under this week's order from Chang:
Information deemed proprietary business information can be seen by state attorneys but must not be disclosed to the public, including the media.
Sections dealing with attorney-client privilege between estate attorneys and trustees cannot be released to state attorneys.
"We're very happy," McCorriston said. "Approximately 95 percent of the materials we asked to be kept confidential was kept protected."
The estate has been "vindicated" of criticism by state attorneys who accused trustees of stonewalling Bronster's investigation because of the objections, McCorriston said.
Cynthia Quinn, special assistant to the attorney general, said state attorneys are also pleased by Chang's ruling.
"We never quarreled with them on attorney-client privilege," Quinn said.
"They wouldn't give us anything else so we had to go through this whole litany."
In related news, McCorriston confirmed that the Internal Revenue Service is continuing to investigate the $10 billion estate.
He said auditors have been around the estate's business offices in Kawaiahao Plaza for two years and "practically have an office there."
Bishop Estate Archive