Friday, September 24, 1999

Trustee pay: $15,000 a month

Judge Kevin Chang rules the
fee is reasonable for the interim
Bishop Estate board

By Rick Daysog


Bishop Estate's five interim trustees will earn $15,000 a month under a ruling today by a state judge.

Citing the "extraordinary circumstances" surrounding the May 7 appointment of the interim board, Probate Judge Kevin Chang said that the trustees' request for fees was reasonable given the huge task they had been assigned.

Chang said he believed that the trustees -- retired Adm. Robert Kihune, American Savings Bank executive Constance Lau, former Iolani School headmaster David Coon, attorney Ronald Libkuman and former Honolulu Police Chief Francis Keala -- have benefited the estate, the local community and the trust's beneficiaries.

Under the ruling, the trustees will be paid a lump sum of about $75,000 for the five months they have already served. They also will receive a one-time $15,000 payment for their work as special-purpose trustees during February. All future payments will be on a monthly basis at a $15,000-a-month rate.

Chang said the ruling will have no bearing on efforts to determine reasonable compensation for future trustees of the Bishop Estate. That subject is being examined by a probate court-appointed compensation committee.

The interim board's compensation request, which translates into an annual salary of about $180,000, is in contrast to the $1 million that the former trustees paid themselves during the past years.

The interim board will likely stay in place until it completes its suit to permanently remove former trustees Richard "Dickie" Wong, Henry Peters and Lokelani Lindsey. Trustees Gerard Jervis and Oswald Stender have resigned.

The board has alleged that the former trustees jeopardized the estate's tax-exempt status by, among other things, excessive compensation.

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