Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Sia trustee
gains control of
Bank of Honolulu

By Peter Wagner


Controlling interest in the Bank of Honolulu has shifted from two Singapore banks to a federal trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of Indonesian businessman Sukamto Sia.

Trustee Guido Giacometti recently filed a "change of control" document with state and federal bank regulators, informing them that 74 percent of outstanding shares in the bank have been added to Sia's bankruptcy estate.

Giacometti, who earlier had alleged that Sia and his affiliates were impeding his efforts to locate the debtor's assets, could not be reached for comment today.

While the filing does nothing to affect operations at the Bank of Honolulu, it represents a major victory for the trustee who since May has been frustrated in efforts to obtain Sia's assets for liquidation.

About $250,000 had been raised by auction of Sia's wine collection, several cars and other personal effects.

Sia, formerly known as Sukarman Sukamto, filed for bankruptcy protection in November 1998, claiming $9.3 million in assets and nearly $296 million in debts. He resigned as chairman of Bank of Honolulu, Hawaii's smallest bank, shortly before the filing.

His two biggest holdings in the United States are his stake in Bank of Honolulu and downtown high-rise Executive Center.

Following months of negotiation, 307,964 shares in the bank were turned over to the trustee by Commerzbank and Societe Generale in Singapore about a month ago, according to Honolulu attorney Steve Jones, an investigator working with Giacometti in the case. Some 7,964 shares withheld by Commerzbank, apparently as collateral on a loan to Sia, remain the object of negotiation.

Jones said the value of the bank shares has yet to be determined. He said a consultant will likely be hired to work with bank executives on a marketing plan.

"It's a significant asset," he said. "We're pleased to get it resolved without the need for litigation."

Jones said the change of control notification, filed about two weeks ago with state and federal banking regulators, is a routine step in gathering and eventually liquidating a bankrupt estate. He said Sia's personal bankruptcy has no bearing on the stability of the Bank of Honolulu.

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