Buzzards in the
Bank of Honolulu
Sightings from The Catbird Seat
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Failed Bank Information
Bank Closing Information for the Bank of Honolulu, Honolulu, HI
2. Press Release
3. Acquiring Financial Institution
4. Priority of Claims
5. Dividend Information
6. Receivership Termination
On October 13, 2000, Bank of Honolulu was closed by The State of Hawaii
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named Receiver. As Receiver, the FDIC is
charged with winding up the business affairs of the failed financial institution.
This includes the disposition of assets and liabilities of the failed financial
institution and payment of dividends to approved creditors in order of priority.
The FDIC has issued a press release about the institution’s closure. If you represent a media outlet and would like information about the closure, please contact the FDIC Public Affairs Office at (202) 898-6993.
All insured deposit accounts were transferred to Bank of the Orient, Honolulu, HI, and were available as usual during regular business hours at the former Bank of Honolulu branches. You may contact Bank of the Orient at:
Bank of the Orient
The dividend process is complete. In accordance with Federal law, allowed
claims are paid, after administrative expenses, in the following order of priority:
The FDIC as Receiver for Bank of Honolulu has taken all actions necessary to
terminate the Receivership Estate.
November 19, 2007
Hawaii bankruptcies still
active years later
By Jim Dooley, Advertiser Staff Writer
It's been almost 10 years since Sukamto Sia, the high-rolling former Honolulu bank owner and real estate dealer, filed a $300 million personal bankruptcy case — and it still hasn't been resolved.
Sia's case is not the oldest bankruptcy pending in Hawai'i. A computer search of court dockets showed that there are 22 open cases filed between 1992 and 2000, involving hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid debts.
Several of the bankruptcies generated financial and social shockwaves when they were filed. Sia's case was notable because of his flamboyant lifestyle and the related financial collapse of the Bank of Honolulu.
The old cases, while still unresolved, have dwindled away to obscurity.
As they drag out there is "less money ... to pay creditors," bankruptcy attorney Dawn Smith said. "Usually there are administrative expenses that have to be paid to attorneys, accountants, appraisers and so forth."
Those expenditures can result in recovery of money owed to the bankrupt estate and later distributed to creditors, but Smith noted that for creditors "waiting years and years for payment means they've lost the use of that money and interest it could have been earning."
The oldest active case is the 1992 Hamakua Sugar bankruptcy, in which one of the largest sugar plantations in Hawai'i closed its doors, throwing some 700 employees out of work and idling cultivation of some 35,000 acres of land on the Big Island. The bankruptcy case was first closed in 1999 but reopened in 2004 to deal with a $36,000 fuel rebate apparently owed to the bankrupt estate. That collection issue is unresolved.
According to paperwork filed when the case was reopened, even if the money is collected, it won't come close to paying all the bills in the case.
"The total amount of unpaid administrative (expenses) in this case is $1.2 million," the Office of the U.S. Trustee reported. "There are over 1,200 administrative claimants comprised of government agencies, former employees, landlords, professionals, and others."
The oldest personal bankruptcy case still active here is that of Marlene Lindsey, sister of former Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey.
The sisters were convicted in 2002 of federal money-laundering and tax charges connected to Marlene Lindsey's bankruptcy case. The bankruptcy remains open while Lokelani Lindsey, who once collected $1 million per year from the Bishop Estate and was one of the most powerful and controversial women in Hawai'i, makes $300 monthly restitution payments to her sister's bankrupt estate.
As of July 31, she had managed to pay $5,000 of the $35,000 she was ordered to repay in 2002.
Other cases include that of Mahalo Air, the startup interisland air carrier that launched service here in 1993 and shut its doors with a 1997 bankruptcy filing that is still active.
The financial failure of Gray Line Hawaii Ltd., the state's third-largest tour bus company, which shut its doors in 1997, is also generating paperwork in Bankruptcy Court.
In the Sia case, a lot has happened to the Indonesian-born businessman since he filed the bankruptcy action in 1998, listing among his debts tens of millions of dollars owed to gambling casinos in Las Vegas, London and Asia.
He was convicted in 2002 of bank and bankruptcy fraud related to the financial collapse and federal takeover of the Bank of Honolulu. He served three years in federal prison and was deported and forbidden ever to return to the United States.
Just a few months ago, he married Kelly Randall, who was his co-defendant in the fraud case, in a lavish wedding at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco.
A few friends from Honolulu attended the July nuptials, including state Senate vice president Donna Mercado Kim and Waikiki's "Ambassador of Aloha," entertainer Danny Kaleikini, according to news accounts of the event.
Attempts to reach Kim, Kaleikini and Linda Wong, another Honolulu friend of Sia's who attended the Monaco wedding, were unsuccessful.
Sia and Randall could not be reached. Sia's local bankruptcy attorney, Noah Fiddler, did not return telephone calls for comment.
Sia still owes more than $200 million to creditors around the world. Randall owes more than $1 million because of a series of transfers of assets Sia made to her, according to documents in the case.
Some creditors wonder where the money came from for the European wedding.
"I don't doubt there are still millions dollars out there which were never found," said Paul Alston, local attorney for an Asian bank owed more than $4 million.
The largest single creditor in the case is CommerzBank (Southeast Asia), which is owed some $41 million, according to case records.
According to accounts of the wedding published in two Singapore-based magazines, it was an exclusive and expensive affair.
Guido Giacometti, the court-appointed private trustee in charge of the Sia bankruptcy case, said he believes it will be closed in the next few months.
"We found all the pockets (of money) that we could," he said.
The Office of the U.S. Trustee, an arm of the Justice Department that oversees the administration of bankruptcy cases, stresses the need to close cases as quickly as possible, Giacometti said.
"We stay in close touch with the office," Giacometti said. "There are cases like this one which stretch out over years and I think the U.S. Trustee's office understands that."
He added: "This was a very complex case with international aspects and with connections to criminal proceedings. Next year it will be 10 years since the case was filed and I'm as anxious to close it as anyone else involved."
Carol Muranaka, assistant U.S. trustee in charge of the Hawai'i office, declined comment, referring questions to Steven Katzman, head of the U.S. Trustee's regional office in San Diego.
Katzman, who oversees bankruptcy administration in Southern California, Hawai'i, Guam and Saipan, was traveling and could not be reached for comment.
Hawai'i bankruptcies filed 1992-2000 that are still active:
1992: Hamakua Sugar Co. Inc.
1994: Papa Bay Inc.
1995: Lindsey, Marlene
Gray Line Hawaii Ltd.
Industrial Technology Inc.
Mahalo Air Inc.
Hawaiian International Service & Tours
Oahu Construction Co. Ltd.
Multimedia Pacific Inc.
Hawaiian Super Prix LLC & Frontier Insurance Group
Hawaiian Grocery Stores Ltd.
Midpac Lumber Co. Ltd.
Cg Investments Inc.
Giacometti v. Arton Bermuda Ltd. (related to 1998 Sia case)
Source: U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Reach Jim Dooley at email@example.com
From the Kamehameha Schools website:
Trustee Diane J. Plotts
After coming to Hawai'i in 1962, Diane Plotts began a long partnership with Hemmeter Investment Company and related entities. Developments included Kings Alley (now Kings Village), Hyatt Regency Waikiki, Hyatt Regency Maui, Hyatt Regency Waikoloa (now Hilton), Westin Maui and Westin (now Marriott) Kauai.
Diane J. Plotts received her Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from San Jose State University in 1958, and served as a finance officer in the US Air Force.
A founding director of the Bank of Honolulu, Plotts currently holds business directorships with Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. is current chair of HEI’s Audit Committee and past chair of its Compensation Committee. She also currently chairs the audit committee for American Savings Bank.
Plotts is active in community service and has served the National Symphony Orchestra-Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.; Hawaii Health Systems Corporation; Aloha United Way; Honolulu Symphony; University of Hawaii Board of Regents; University of Hawaii Foundation; Nature Conservancy of Hawaii; Hawaii Community Foundation; National Business Committee for the Arts; Waikiki Improvement Association; Economic Revitalization Task Force; and the Center for International Dispute Resolution.
Plotts serves as a director for the Plaza Club and is the first female President of the Oahu Country Club.
November 28, 2003
Developer Christopher Hemmeter
dies at age 64
Pacific Business News (Honolulu)
Christopher B. Hemmeter, a prolific developer who built some of Hawaii's most notable hotels and resorts, died Thursday at his Los Angeles home. He was 64.
Eight months ago he was diagnosed with severe liver cancer. He also had been coping with Parkinson's disease. This was his second bout with cancer.
Sharing memories of his father, son Mark Hemmeter told PBN from Los Angeles, "Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday because it was all about just family. Our whole family was with him yesterday, and it was very peaceful."
Hemmeter came to Hawaii in the 1960s and became a noted developer while still in his 20s, along with partners Henry Shigekane and Diane Plotts. Many credit Hemmeter with creating the concept of a destination resort. He moved to the mainland in 1991 and became a casino developer in Colorado and New Orleans. His most recent venture was a successful restaurant near Universal Studios.
Former President Jimmy Carter, Hemmeter's close friend, told PBN for an October profile: "Chris has the uncanny ability to dream ... then put his concepts into practice for the enjoyment of countless others."
"We are extremely saddened by his passing, but we also rejoice as we reflect upon his life," the family said in a statement Friday. "He stood for all that was good in us and gave unselfishly of his time and energy. He will be greatly missed. His affection and caring for others, his charisma, and his professional accomplishments lead many people to pronounce that he was truly 'larger than life.'"
For his accomplishments, Hemmeter has received numerous awards including being named twice as the Businessman of the Year, Salesperson of the Year, Marketing Man of the Year and Islander of the Year in Hawaii. He was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement in 1979. In 1991 Hemmeter was selected the Independent Hotelier of the World.
Hemmeter's activities went beyond the hotel industry. He was the founder and chairman of the Bank of Honolulu, a director of the First Hawaiian Bank, a director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C., a trustee of Punahou School in Honolulu, a member of the Young Presidents Organization, a director of the Carter Center, a director of Morrison Knudsen, a director of Resort Income Investors, and a Trustee Fellow of Cornell University where he received the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year award granted to Cornell University graduates.
"Hawaii needs to appreciate his contributions to the visitor industry and the state," close Hemmeter friend and retired Bank of Hawaii CEO Larry Johnson told PBN previously. "His legacy will live here forever."
He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Patricia; children Mark and daughter-in-law Lisa, Chris and fiancée Debi, Katie and husband Cully; stepchildren Kelley, Shane, Brendan and wife Brook, and Holli; sister Sally Younge and husband Eric; brother Dr. Mead Hemmeter and wife Mari-Jo; sister-in-law Karen Cook; and six grandchildren, Taylor, Maddy, Annabelle, Austin, Ryan and Quinn.
Private services will be held Sunday in Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the new Christopher B. and Patricia K. Hemmeter Kahaola Hospice Foundation at 1164 Bishop St., Suite 800, Honolulu, HI 96813.
Bob Awana - Chief of Staff to Governor Linda Lingle
Hawaii State Government
Bob Awana assists Governor Linda Lingle in supervising all state departments and in developing and implementing major state initiatives. He thereby ensures that the roles and duties of all department heads and other government officials are carried out in accordance with state statutes and in support of the Governor.
Before assuming his present role, Awana served as Governor Lingle's campaign manager during the 1998 and 2002 gubernatorial elections. He also served as chief of staff of former Honolulu Mayor Eileen Anderson in the early 1980s.
Prior to joining the public sector, Awana was the government affairs director for Waste Management, Inc. He was also a partner with the national accounting and consulting firm of Pannell Kerr Forster, and held leadership positions with the Village Resorts hotel chain, Bank of Honolulu and Sea Life Park. Awana is a graduate of St. Louis School.
I am a passionate person for the people. I fight for the underdog. I'm concerned about people who are less advantaged.
Doing things right ? fairly and ethically ? is high on his priority list. He doesn't want to play games. He's very, very upfront with you, and you don't have to read between the lines.
Stan Koki, former state senator.
From Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, by Chalmers Johnson, © 2000:
... For any empire, including an unacknowledged one, there is a kind of balance sheet that builds up over time. Military crimes, accidents, and atrocities make up only one category on the debit side of the balance sheet that the United States has been accumulating, especially since the Cold War ended.
To take an example of quite a different kind of debit, consider South Korea, a longtime ally. On Christmas Eve 1997, it declared itself financially bankrupt and put itits economy under the guidance of the International Monetary Fund, which is basically an institutional surrogate of the United States government.
Most Americans were surprised by the economic disaster that overtook Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, and Indonesia in 1997 and that then spread around the world, crippling the Russian and Brazilian economies. They could hardly imagine that the U.S. government might have had a hand in causing them, even though various American pundits and economists expressed open delight in these disasters, which threw millions of people, who had previously had hopes of achieving economic prosperity and security, into the most abysmal poverty.
At worst, Americans took the economic meltdown of places like Indonesia and Brazil to mean that beneficial American-supported policies of “globalization” were working – that we were effectively helping restructure various economies around the world so that they would look and work more like ours....
As the global crisis deepened, the thing our government most seemed to fear was that contracts to buy our weapons might now not be honored. That winter, Secretary of Defense William Cohen made special trips to Jakarta, Bangkok, and Seoul to cajole the governments of those countries to use increasingly scarce foreign exchange funds to pay of the American fighter jets, missiles, warships, and other hardware the Pentagon had sold them before the economic collapse.
He also stopped in Tokyo to urge on a worried Japanese government a big sale not yet agreed to. He wanted Japan to invest in the theatre missile defense system, or TMD, anti-missile missiles that the Pentagon has been trying to get the Japanese to by for a decade. No one knew then or knows now whether the TMD will even work – in fifteen years of intercept attempts only a few missiles in essentially doctored tests have hit their targets – but it is unquestionably expensive, and arms sales, both domestic and foreign, have become one of the Pentagon’s most important missions.
I believe the profligate waste of our resources on irrelevant weapons systems and the Asian economic meltdown, as well as the continuous trail of military “accidents” and of terrorist attacks on American installations and embassies, are all portents of a twenty-first-century crisis in America’s informal empire, an empire base on the projection of military power to every corner of the world and on the use of American capital and markets to force global economic integration on our terms, at whatever costs to others....
Each year approximately ten thousand American troops descend on Thailand for a joint military exercise, called Cobra Gold. The military part of these visits is largely make-work for the American and Thai staffs, but the troops love Cobra Gold because of the sex.
According to the newspaper Pacific Stars and Stripes, some three thousand prostitutes wait for the sailors and marines at the South Pattaya waterfront, close to Utapao air base. An equal number of young Thai girls from the country-side, many of whom have been raped and then impressed into the “sex industry,” are available downtown in Bangkok’s Patpang district. They are virtually all infected with AIDS, but the condom-equipped American forces seem not to worry.
At the time of the 1997 war games, just before the economic crisis broke, sex with a Thai prostitute cost around fifteen hundred Thai baht, or sixty dollars at its then pegged rate of twenty-five baht to one U.S. dollar. By the time of the next year’s Cobra Gold the price had been more than halved. This is just one of many market benefits Americans gained through their rollback operation against the “Asian model” of capitalism.
Th global economic crisis that began in Thailand in July 1997 had two causes. First, the built-in contradictions of the American satellite system in East Asia had heightened to such a degree that the system itself unexpectedly began to splinter and threatened to blow apart. Second, the United States, relieved of the prudence imposed on it by the Cold War ... launched a campaign to force the rest of the world to adopt its form of capitalism. This effort went under the rubric of “globalization.”...
... Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country and the world’s largest Islamic nation. During its early years, after fighting for its independence from the Netherlands, when its founder and leader was President Sukarno (like many Indonesians, including General Suharto, he has only one name), it was a champion of neutralism and a thorn in the side of American foreign policy. Many CIA covert operations were mounted against Indonesia in that period, including during the revolution of 1965, when Suharto came to power, ousted Sukarno, and in a bloody program eliminated leftist forces throughout the islands. Suharto and the army ruled with a strong authoritarian hand until May 1998.
During this period and with considerable American and Japanese support, Suharto overcame starvation on the main island of Java and led the country into sustained economic growth. However, Indonesia was clobbered by the 1997 financial crisis that depressed its stock and currency values to as much as 80 percent below precrisis levels.
Because of the misguided policies by the United States and the International Monetary Fund ... the number of people in Indonesia living below the poverty line grew in a matter of months from twenty-seven million to over a hundred million (half of the population), and thirty years of economic gains were wiped out. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs. The country remains destitute and threatened with possible disintegration, even though its political life has been invigorated by the return of democracy after thirty-two years of one-man rule.
Thus far, the blowback from American policies in Indonesia has affected primarily Indonesians and, in particular, the Chinese minority in the country, which is also the entrepreneurial elite. Americans have not been affected, but this is unlikely to last as Indonesia emerges from its present trauma and starts to assess what happened to it and who was responsible.
The bloody ouster of General Suharto as president of Indonesia and as one of America’s favorite dictators in East Asia is a case study in the dangers of JCET programs. Between May 13 and May 15, 1998, nearly 1,200 people were killed in Jakarta in rioting that led to the resignation of General Suharto. It was subsequently revealed that during this “rioting” at least 168 women and girls, most of them of Chinese ancestry, had been raped by “organized groups of up to a dozen men” and that 20 had died during or after the assaults....
The Indonesian armed forces, known as ABRI, have long been the chosen instrument of American foreign policy in the area, bolstering Suharto’s stoutly andi-Communist regime. In 1965, when General Suharto was in the process of coming to power, the United States provided ABRI with lists of suspected Communists, over half a million of whom were slaughtered. It also publicly endorsed ABRI’s 1975 invasion of East Timor and the subsequent elimination of two hundred thousand East Timorese through what the State Department in its 1996 Human Rights Report calls “extrajudicial killings.”...
When the 1997 financial crisis spread to Indonesia and it became apparent that the International Monetary Fund’s bailout policies wer likely to end the seventy-six-year-old Suharto’s further usefulness to the United States, American policy remained focused on maintaining control inside Indonesia through its backing of the 465,000-man-strong ABRI. Indonesia totally lacks external enemies. Its armed forces are therefore devoted almost entirely to maintaining “internal security.”
During most of the Suharto years, the United States actively trained ABRI special forces in a variety of what the New York Times calls “specialized acts of warfare and counterinsurgency.” The CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency have long maintained close ties with ABRI, which has often been implicated in cases of torture, kidnapping, and assassination....
After November 12, 1991, when Indonesian troops killed 271 people allegedly demonstration for independence in Dili, the capital of East Timor, Congress cut off financial support for further training, although it did not end arms sales to Indonesia. The Pentagon has nonetheless expanded its ABRI training programs under cover of JCET. At least forty-one exercises involving fully armed U.S. combat troops – including Green Berets, Air Force commandos, and marines – transported to Indonesia from Okinawa have taken place since 1995. The American 1st Special Forces Group is permanently deployed at Torii, Okinawa.
The primary Indonesian beneficiary of this effort was evidently intended to be forty-seven-year-old Lieutenant General Prabowo, Suharto’s son-in-law and business paratner. Prabowo’s wife, who is Suharto’s second daughter, owned a sizable piece of Merrill Lynch, Indonesia.
Prabowo, a graduate of elite military training courses at Fort Bening, Georgia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, spent ten years fighting guerrillas in East Timor, where he earned a reputation for cruelty and ruthlessness. In 1995, donning the red beret of Kopassus, he managed to enlarge the special forces corps from 3,500 to 6,000 troops. He worked closely with his American supporters; of the forty-one JCET training exercises conducted since Congress ordered all training stopped, at least twenty-four wer with Kopassus. According to the Nation magazine’s Indonesian correspondent Allan Naim, one Kopassus unit received twenty-six days of American instruction in “military operations in urban terrain” after the economic crisis began....
There were good reasons why the United States would want to keep General Suharto in power. In the early years of his rule, Suharto contributed greatly to regional stability, while bringing at lease a modicum of prosperity and optimism to the Indonesian people...
Like the government of another American-supported autocrat, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Suharto’s government developed over time into a kleptocracy – firms still controlled by members of his family are said to be worth many billions of dollars; but unlike Marcos his achievements were formidable... Th current decline of Indonesian economic and, possibly, political power certainly means that China is more likely to assert its political primacy in the region.
TheU.S. government was aware of these dangers, and therefore when, in 1997, international financiers began to exploit the Indonesian currency and foreclose on their short-term loans, leading American officials loudly proclaimed their backing of Suharto, signaling their lack of desire to see him overthrown. This position was, however, undercut by a politically uncoordinated agent of American power, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which agreed to lend huge amounts of money to Indonesia to help meet its debts, but only if it imposed economics-textbook prescriptions for reordering its economy.
The IMF, it must be noted, is staffed primarily with holders of PH.D.s in economics from American universities, who are both illiterate about and contemptuous of cultures that do not conform to what they call the “American way of life.” They offer only “one size (or, rather, one capitalism) fits all” remedies for ailing economic institutions. The IMF has applied these over the years to countries in Latin America, Russia, and East Asia without ever achieving a single notable success. ... They ignored the fact that Suharto, while enriching members of his own extended family and firms that cultivated their good graces, also granted ordinary Indonesians food and fuel subsidies. On May 4, 2998, the IMF ordered these subsidies stopped. This alone made political instability inevitable.
On May 8, the United States ordered JCET activities suspended in Indonesia after the Nation’s Allan Nairn, at this potentially embarrassing moment, exposed the nature of the Pentagon’s covert assistance program for Kopassus. My mid-May 1998, U.S. officials had started to signal changes in their position and begun to leak to the press statements not for attribution indicating that the IMF’s reform program would not work unless Suharto were replaced. Senators like John Kerry of Massachusetts and Paul Wellstone of Minnesota echoed this demand on Capitol Hill....
Amid growing turbulence in Jakarta, President Suharto left Indonesia for a state visit to Egypt, and the country’s top military officer, General Wiranto, left the capital on May 14 and flew to eastern Java for a divisional parade. In this context, Indonesia erupted....
~ ~ ~
It may seem that what happened in Indonesia was another successful American-choreographed replacement of a regime that had become “unacceptable” – especially since the army in which the United States had invested so much came out in an even more powerful position in the new, soon-to-be “democratic” Indonesia.... But the truth of the matter was that the IMF and the U.S. Department of Defense, having helped reverse a quarter century of economic progress, had probably made it impossible for any Indonesian government to recover from the disaster...
– Chalmers Johnson, 2000
For more, GO TO > > > AIG: The American Idol of Greed; BLOWBACK!; Sukamto Sia: The Indonesian Connection
August 6, 2004
Sukamto Sia’s Lawyers To Pay
$6 Million In Settlement
By Tim Ruel, Honolulu Star-Bulletin
A Honolulu attorney and a high-powered law firm that represented imprisoned businessman Sukamto Sia during his bankruptcy proceedings must pay $6.25 million in a settlement over allegations they helped the former Indonesian investor hide assets from creditors.
Attorney Renton Nip and the former Washington, D.C., law firm Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson & Hand must pay the money to Sia’s bankruptcy estate, a Singapore bank, casinos that are owed money by Sia and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Sia pleaded guilty to federal bankruptcy fraud in 2001 and is in prison in Big Springs, Texas. He was to be released next month but his sentence has been placed in an indefinite status because Sia was recently found in contempt for not complying with a U.S. Bankruptcy Court order.
Sia’s bankruptcy trustee Guido Giacometti sued Verner Liipfert and Nip in 2002, saying they “entered into an overarching conspiracy to conceal and divert assets from (Sia’s) bankruptcy estate.” Later, the Singapore bank and the casinos filed separate lawsuits over similar allegations.
“I know in my heart that the suits were not fair and not right. The settlement, however excessive, brings the Chinese water torture finally to an end,” Nip said yesterday. He declined to elaborate.”
Warren Price III, attorney for the former Verner Liipfert law firm, said the defendants settled based on the decision of their insurance carrier, and that the settlement will be covered by insurance. Verner Liipfert and Nip dispute all of the claims against them.
“There were a number of parties involved and the defense costs were just going to be horrendous,” Price said.
Nip, who shares a law office with former Gov. John Waihee, was once affiliated with Verner Liipfert, which has since merged into the national law firm Piper Rudnick.
Under the settlement, approved last week by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Lloyd King, Nip and Verner Liipfert do not admit liability. The casino companies, including London Clubs International plc, Aspinall’s Club Ltd. and Rio Casino, will get $2.5 million from the settlement, which is not as much as the $12 million in initial claims they filed against Sia’s bankruptcy estate.
The suits against Sia’s former lawyers will be dismissed and the casinos are waiving their right to seek more money from the bankruptcy estate.
Sia, who once was involved in selling land to the state for the $350 million Hawaii Convention Center, ran into financial problems with creditors in 1998. He filed bankruptcy in Honolulu, claiming he had nearly $300 million in debts and only $9.3 million in assets. Giacometti has since estimated the face value of Sia’s assets at $53 million.
Giacometti has raised $7.4 million for creditors, and the estate will receive another $1.25 million for its role as receiver for the now-defunct Bank of Honolulu, where Sia was once chairman and Nip was a director.
Another $1.25 million from the settlement will go to an Asian unit of Commerzbank AG, a major bank based in Germany.
Meanwhile, Giacometti said he is in talks to resolve the contempt order that is keeping Sia in prison. A local attorney for Sia declined comment yesterday....
See also: http://starbulletin.com/98/11/10/business/story1.html
October 10, 2003
Hemmeter projects and
persona larger than life
Pacific Business News (Honolulu) - by Gina Mangieri
Chris Hemmeter is not one to tinker. In projects from the 1970s through the 1990s, he preferred to start with a gigantic clean slate -- which meant a lot of razing, digging and grading -- before turning his visions into grand developments.
The Hyatt Waikoloa Village, now Hilton, is like Disneyland without the rides -- except for a 175-foot water slide and both boats and trams to shuttle guests through the property. More than $7 million was invested in artwork for an open-air gallery, which includes statues of mainland mountain animals. The project used enough pink flagstone from Arizona to stretch 75 miles if laid end to end.
Hemmeter's Kauai project, too, got over-the-top treatment. The 356-room resort includes a 26,000-square-foot pool -- the largest in Hawaii. Its champion-designed links would be followed by a golf-course boom that would leave 30 new courses in the islands in 10 years. The original hotel grounds included many larger-than-life sculptures, which the new owners removed.
"I remember looking at his hotel in Kauai after it was built, and to me it was kind of weird," former Hawaiian Electric CEO Dudley Pratt recalls. "It was all for show."
Others in Hawaii agreed some projects were over the top. Environmental groups criticized the operating requirements of his hotels in everything from water and electricity consumption to waterfront development approaches.
Hemmeter filled in 1.8 acres of submerged lands to develop Waikoloa. It's a point of contention today as a land dispute that still has the landowners at odds with state Department of Land and Natural Resources after U.S. District Judge David Ezra ordered the hotel compensate the state for use of public lands. Besides resource consumption, some saw his projects as forgoing Hawaiiana for fantasy.
Hemmeter's response is that a resort must keep the customer's fantasy escape in mind.
"You have to serve customers the wine they want, not the wine you think they should have," Hemmeter said. If developing here today, however, Hemmeter says he would work in a way "more compatible with Hawaii's environment and culture."
President Jimmy Carter agrees Hemmeter has the capacity to develop with nature in mind and says he has flexibility in style.
"Chris' creative mind and love of the natural world ... are evident in the design of the Carter Center," Carter told PBN. "He is constantly probing for excellence, searching always for the cutting edge of exciting achievements and daring experiments in architectural design."
A development that appealed more to the classical senses came in his renovation of the former Armed Forces YMCA on Hotel Street, on the site of the first Royal Hawaiian Hotel built in 1872 and demolished in 1926. He sold it to a Japanese investor, who later sold it to the state to serve as offices and an art museum.
Right place, right time
From 1968 to '71, more than 17,000 hotel rooms came to Waikiki. Money was flowing from investors. Hemmeter was positioned to join the building boom.
And his projects earned a wide visitor following. Hemmeter said Hyatt reaped significant revenue on Oahu and Maui, and even today the Hilton Waikoloa Village is a hit.
"Barron Hilton [hotel chain chairman] told me Waikoloa is their No. 1 resort in performance and popularity," Hemmeter said.
Hemmeter had a knack for seeing possibility where others did not. But he was also in the right place at the right time for his style and taste for design and risk, many say. He built during the bubble, and in a way that some say he probably couldn't have once it burst.
"Later, it could not have been done," Pratt said. "People have come back down to earth."
His major developments in Hawaii rode the 1980s all the way to the top, and few failed to be sold for more than they cost to develop. The Kauai hotel was struck by Hurricane Iniki and sold for a fraction of the $135 million development cost, but the two golf courses -- included in the original development price -- had previously been sold for $250 million.
Hemmeter's only Hawaii project to lose value upon sale was Waikoloa, which sold for about 25 cents on the dollar. Hemmeter and former business partner Diane Plotts said no local lenders were hit with a loss.
"Waikoloa sold for less than we built it for, but it was the kind of project that was needed to activate all the other thousands of acres in Waikoloa," Plotts said.
Bankers familiar with Hemmeter's projects say their operating expenses exceeded revenue, but Hemmeter counters that they must have been successful because "they all sold for extensive profits, except Waikoloa."
Admirers and critics
Plotts and former partner Henry Shigekane both credit Hemmeter as the wizard of Hemmeter Investment Co. But Hemmeter and others say his partners were also essential to his success.
"One of Hemmeter's big strengths is that he surrounded himself with good people," said Stuart Ho, son of Chinn Ho, adding he recalls his father had a favorable impression of Hemmeter back to days together at the Ilikai.
"It was amazing growing up with him as a father," said son Mark Hemmeter, developer in Colorado. "The best lesson I learned was that taking risks is a very good thing."
In an industry where smooth talking, favors and connections can be just as important as a good idea and solid capital, many who know Hemmeter say he and his team instead had unquestioned integrity.
Francis Oda, Group 70 architect, first met Hemmeter when he was developing King's Alley. The development would mean a car-rental agency had to move, and Oda was involved in helping with the agency's new site. Oda recalls Hemmeter made it his personal mission to ensure the agency ended up with lucrative Kalakaua Avenue frontage despite his development.
"He was all over solving their problems for them, and that impressed me," Oda said.
Many others also praise his integrity. Though they also concede his bold endeavors left some people uncomfortable.
"He was so extreme in carrying out his vision," said Beadie Dawson, an attorney, entrepreneur and community leader who recalls meeting Hemmeter in the 1960s when she worked in hotel public relations. "I think there's an element of jealousy out there about what he was able to get done."
"He went into so many projects, some were bound to be controversial," former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi said. "But hey, he made things happen."
A sting after 30 years developing
When the state didn't choose Hemmeter's Aloha Tower development proposal in 1989, many recall a bitter reaction. Hemmeter acknowledges it was a tremendous letdown.
"When I lost it, my comment was, 'I didn't know you wanted two palm trees and chewing gum,'" he said, still critical today of the winning bidder. Today, his bitterness is softened by hindsight. The young man made old before his time by cancer sounds more wounded than angry about the lost deal.
"I was enormously hurt," he said, adding that he had $1.38 billion in financing lined up for the venture.
He said he believes he had the best ideas for the project -- which involved a floating market, a sports arena and an aquarium. He even hung on to his Aloha Tower portfolio, today a timeworn set of renderings yet to be rendered neutral in Hemmeter's imagination. He turns the pages, orchestrating his ideas, and the music he said was his best sales tool still comes through in tones weakened by the slurs of Parkinson's.
"When we lost Chris to the mainland, we lost one of our greatest assets," retired Bank of Hawaii CEO Larry Johnson said of Hemmeter's move to the mainland in 1991.
"There is no one that can fill his shoes," son Mark said.
There is broad consensus that he has set a standard for creativity and productivity. Many compare him with Henry Kaiser who brought so many changes to Hawaii in the decades before Hemmeter's arrival in the 1960s.
Though Hemmeter has lived off-island for more than 10 years, he brought with him upon his return this week a new economic development plan (see page 46) for the islands, one he says would "maximize our assets -- the land and the people."
Many already see him as an important contributor to Hawaii's economic development after statehood. Hemmeter estimates his Hawaii projects have employed as many as 30,000 people.
"Chris Hemmeter is an extraordinary businessman, developer, community leader... and friend," President Carter said.
"Hawaii needs to appreciate his contributions to the visitor industry and the state," Johnson said. "His legacy will live here forever.
- Reach Gina Mangieri, PBN editor, at or firstname.lastname@example.org
October 10, 2003
The one-time Hawaii resort
developer has come back
to town to see friends
and speak his piece
By Russ Lynch, Star-Bulletin
Former Hawaii developer Chris Hemmeter has battled prostate cancer and Parkinson's disease and is now dealing with a killer cancer affecting the bile duct. For Hemmeter, it's a liver transplant or death and his doctors told him he wouldn't make his 64th birthday.
But in a visit with friends in Honolulu this week, which included a party for that birthday, Hemmeter said his biggest trial was dealing with corrupt politicians in New Orleans.
Hemmeter -- who developed King's Alley and the twin-tower Hyatt Regency Waikiki, [on land leased from Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate] as well as luxury resorts such as the Hyatt Regency Waikoloa on the Big Island, now the Hilton Waikoloa Village, and the Westin Maui -- said in an interview that he was upset about the way Louisiana reporters picked on him over his grand plan for a $1 billion casino in New Orleans.
The bottom line to Hemmeter is that while the casino plan failed, it also put Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards in federal prison a year ago, to serve a 10-year term for extortion.
And Hemmeter said the luxury resorts he built in Hawaii made real money for him and his family and are now doing well again, despite setbacks under mostly Japanese owners following the burst of the late 1980s Japanese investment bubble.
Hemmeter sold those resorts at big profits, but when he stepped into the murky waters of Mississippi politics he ran aground, leading to the filing of personal bankruptcy by Hemmeter and his wife Patsy in 1997.
It began with the award to the Hemmeter group 10 years ago of a lease for a property designated to house the city's first land-based casino. The 60-year ground lease, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was awarded because "we had the best plan," Hemmeter said.
Enter Edwards, a keen gambler and, according to Hemmeter and other critics, a corrupt politician. Edwards wanted a piece of the action for himself and his cronies and relatives, Hemmeter said. "He let me know in no uncertain terms that he expected his boys cut in on the deal. We said, no way we could do business like that," Hemmeter said. That's when the rot set in, ending with Edwards ignoring the law that said the land owner, in this case Hemmeter's company, would choose the gaming operator and simply telling Hemmeter that his choice of Caesar's as an operator was not going to be approved.
In the end, Edwards forced through a deal with three companies sharing the business, leaving Hemmeter with about a third of it.
"I ended up as a minority investor and watched my investment go down, down, down," Hemmeter said.
Hemmeter, who had kept his Hawaii developments as individual entities, ended up breaking that rule in New Orleans and consolidating several of his companies and pledging several multimillion-dollar homes as collateral for loans. The first casino, on a temporary location intended to get the business started while a new one was built, closed a few months after it opened in 1995, with Edwards' pick Harrah's going bankrupt and bond-holders unable to recover the $400 million they had invested.
That was about the end of the saga, except for the corruption and extortion federal case against Edwards.
During the selection process, Hemmeter paid for Edwards and other Louisiana officials to make luxury trips to Hawaii.
Hemmeter maintains that was all part of the shakedown and said he was vindicated when it was revealed that federal investigators had bugged his phones for 2 1/2 years and in "tens of hours" of tapes and they were unable to show one incident in which Hemmeter did anything wrong. The experience certainly soured him on the location. "I've never set foot in New Orleans, even to change planes, since 1995," he said....
The Hemmeters had a "reverse surprise birthday party" at the Kahala Avenue home of lingerie multilevel marketing moguls Walter and Tiffany James Wednesday night, with a short but elite list of guests invited for what they thought was going to be a video-conference with Hemmeter speaking from the mainland.
Present were three former governors -- George Ariyoshi, John Waihee and Ben Cayetano -- former Mayor Frank Fasi and an array of other Hemmeter friends representing much of the long-time business leadership in the islands.
Guests were delighted when Walter James, who runs UndercoverWear with his wife, confessed that Chris and Patsy Hemmeter were in the house. Hemmeter was welcomed warmly and he said doctors had told him and Patsy that they should not expect him to be around for a 64th birthday party.
One who was completely taken by surprise was Larry Johnson, former chief executive officer of Bank of Hawaii, who had arrived only half an hour earlier on a flight from New York. Johnson said he hadn't showered but his wife Claire told him not to worry because the video link would not detect any body odor.
Thos Rohr, who headed the group that developed the Waikoloa Resort, said the best thing about Hemmeter was that he started at the bottom, as a trainee with Sheraton Hotels here in the early 1960s, and rose to the top, handling deals with hundreds of millions of dollars in the same gracious way he always acted.
Tim Guard, a longtime Hemmeter friend and president of the stevedoring company McCabe, Hamilton & Renny, called the reunion "an evening of smiles."
September 6, 2000
Former isle banker
Sia first ordered freed,
then held pending appeal
By Tim Ruel, Star-Bulletin
A federal judge said today that Asian businessman Sukamto Sia should be released on bail pending an Oct. 31 trial, but agreed to keep him behind bars pending an appeal by the U.S. Attorney General's office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Omer Poirier said he would appeal the bail ruling tomorrow.
While Federal Magistrate Barry Kurren called Sia a possible flight risk, Kurren did not think the U.S. government had showed enough evidence that he would leave the United States.
Kurren placed several conditions on Sia's release, including $150,000 in cash and two Hawaii properties with equity worth a total of $760,000, all posted by friends.
Stockbroker Al Souza, friend of Sia for 15 years, offered his Waialeale home, worth $320,000 in remaining equity. Eric Yanagihara, formerly Sia's Hawaii asset manager and former senior vice president of Bank of Hawaii, offered remaining equity in his Waialae Ridge home, worth $440,000.
Also, attorney Jon Miho will post a cashier's check worth $100,000 and Sia lawyer Renton Nip will post $50,000.
Entertainer Danny Keleikini offered testimony in support of Sia's release.
Federal authorities downplayed the significance of the collateral, arguing that Sia could leave the country, then later make it up to his friends for what they would lose.
"This person is an extraordinary flight risk," said Poirier during the hearing.
Sia, born in Indonesia, has family in Singapore and lives in Macao, which was recently taken back as part of mainland China. Neither China nor Singapore has extradition treaties with the United States, Poirier said.
A federal indictment alleges Sia knowingly hid more than $7 million in December of 1997 before filing for bankruptcy in Honolulu in November of 1998. He is also charged with spending nearly $800,000 in state tax returns that should have been paid into his bankruptcy estate.
Sia, a former director and major shareholder in Bank of Honolulu, filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 8, 1998 listing $296.4 million in debts and $9.3 million in assets. The bankruptcy was filed a month after his arrest in Las Vegas on charges of bouncing more than $13 million in checks at several casinos. Sia has blamed his financial woes on a downturn in the Asian economy.
Sia, 41, got involved with Bank of Honolulu in 1987 when his father-in-law, the rich and influential Atang Latief, bought 70 percent of the bank and Sia bought 30 percent. Latief later sold his shares to Sia.
September 1, 2000
Sia to be locked up
A judge postpones a bail hearing on
the former Hawaii banker until Tuesday
By Peter Wagner, Star-Bulletin
"He's ohana," said a visibly shaken Danny Keleikini, after federal marshalls led businessman Sukamto Sia away in shackles to spend the long Labor Day weekend in a holding cell. "He's family."
The entertainer was among several witnesses who came to support Sia at a detention hearing yesterday before Federal Magistrate Barry Kurren.
The 41-year-old Sia, a citizen of Singapore who lives in Macao, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday on three counts of bankruptcy fraud.
Federal authorities want him held without bail until the Oct. 31 trial.
The indictment alleges Sia knowingly hid more than $7 million in December of 1997 before filing for bankruptcy in Honolulu in November of 1998. He is also charged with spending nearly $800,000 in state tax returns that should have been paid into his bankruptcy estate.
Dressed in green prison garb and looking a little disheveled, Sia stood before Kurren and asked for his release pending trial.
"Of course, these days I can't assume anything but with so many friends here to support me I won't disappoint them," said. "I won't be a fugitive all my life."
But, acting on the request of federal prosecutors, Kurren postponed the hearing until Tuesday and ordered Sia held without bail pending trial next month.
The question before the court remains whether to hold Sia without bail pending is Assistant U.S. Attorney Omer Poirier asked for more time to locate a sister-in-law of Sia who allegedly saw a box containing "various identity documents."
Poirier also said his office is trying to locate an employee of a Nevada casino said to have been told by Sia that any debts would have to be collected while he was in the United States because he did not plan to come back.
Poirier also wanted time to research extradition procedures in Macao, which might be complicated since the colony was recently taken back as part of mainland China.
Joining Keleikini in support of Sia at yesterday's hearing were Honolulu attorney John Miho, stockbroker Al Souza and Eric Yanagihara, lead trustee of a charitable foundation supported by Sia to benefit Hawaii's children.
"They're just trying to throw him in in jail for four days to humiliate him," said Miho, who walked off in disgust.
Sia's attorney, John Edmunds, offered to post a $150,000 cashier's check as bail, money he said was put up by friends of Sia.
But Kurren said too many questions remain regarding Sia's likelihood to take flight.
Sia, a former director and major shareholder in Bank of Honolulu, filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 8, 1998 listing $296.4 million in debts and $9.3 million in assets. The bankruptcy was filed a month after his arrest in Las Vegas on charges of bouncing more than $13 million in checks at several casinos.
Sia has blamed his financial woes on a downturn in the Asian economy.
HAWAIIAN BANKS LINK: China-US Campaign
Scandal and Illicit Capital Flow
The Link Between Mochtar Riady and
the Clinton Administration.
By Greg Wongham, greaterthings.com
The problems with the FDIC/Donna Tanoue and the two big Hawaii banks will undoubtedly effect people throughout the country. I believe that the Hawaii links to Mochtar Riady are attempting to gain access to the American capital market through Riady’s brother-in-law, Mumin Ala Gundawun. Riady was too hot (BCCI, Chinagate), so they wisely chose to approach their plan via the Hawaii connection.
Sec. Treas., Robert Rubin played a major role in setting up this new bank scandal by lobbying for repeal of the Bank Holding Company Act. The purpose for this action is to allow Bank Holding companies (Hawaii’s Pacific Century Financial Corp and BancWest) to expand their financial services, thus allowing them to become full service securities brokerages. This seems like an ideal front to legitimize their deals to the American capital markets....
Overview. I am the producer/host of a public access TV show called “Corruption in Hawaii.” I have spent 6 years exposing different aspects of the Hawaii machine....
During the month of August ... a segment of my show (was) titled, “What does Hawaii’s Bank Losses Mean to You?” The show featured a guest who described the losses he experienced in his family trust which was handled by Pacific Century Financial Corp (formerly Bank of Hawaii). He lost $1 million, plus $300 thousand in legal fees.
Numerous people called and said that they too, had experienced significant losses. Last week the public access station pulled the segment of the show. The next day the CEO of Pacific Century resigned. Two of the board of directors for the public access station are with the two big banks....
The important points in this story revolve around the fact that Hawaii’s Democratic machine played a major role in the Chinagate scenario that grew out of the investigation into illegal foreign campaign fundraising.
The machine headed by Hawaii’s political godfather, Senator Dan Inouye was being investigated by the FBI during former (R) President George Bush’s tenure. The basis of the investigation stemmed from allegations of extortion and bribery aimed at the administration of former (D) Gov. John Waihee. The investigation was killed by Clinton’s friend Webster Hubbell, the number three man in the Justice Dept under Janet Reno. (AP story by J. Solomon: FBI failed to act of fund-raising of ex-Hawaii couple.)...
Eventually the investigation focused on Indonesian banking tycoon, Mochtar Riady and his Lippo Group. The basis of the story I am trying to relay to you is that Hawaii’s Democratic Machine used the billions of dollars of the Kamehameha Schools / Bishop Estate assets to undertake the task of underwriting and orchestrating the initial public offering of the Xiamen International Bank on the Hang Seng and the NY Stock Exchange.
This would have the effect of legitimizing a Communist Chinese banking entity on the biggest stock exchange in the U.S. and opening the doors allowing American money to capitalize a communist regime....
It begins in 1963 to 1970, when a group of Hawaii legislators killed a Bank Examiner Bill. They were already employed as legal counsel or otherwise associated with the top banks. This, I felt, was a good point to begin telling you the story because it begins to reflect a pattern of using politically appointed people to legally white-wash or cover-up the wrong-doing of the big banking and financial interests here in Hawaii.
Today the same thing is happening, and this time they were successful in persuading President Clinton to push Hawaii’s Donna Tanoue to become the head of the FDIC. The significance in this is that the only time anyone here in Hawaii ever heard of Ms Tanoue was when she was tapped to cover-up the scandals that arose when 9 out of 20 of Hawaii’s Industrial banks failed. Many of them were linked to former (D) Gov. George Ariyoshi and the high ranking Democratic ‘old boys’. The results were that no one was convicted or sentenced to do time and the people of Hawaii ended up footing the bills....
The point is ... that once again Hawaii’s top banks are in a financial tail-spin and Donna Tanoue has been conveniently positioned to allow the banks to expand throughout Asia, the Pacific-Rim and the western part of the U.S....
October 12, 1993
Bonds: All Insider's Game ...
Takemoto Names Bond Lawyers
with Waihee Ties
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Two attorneys with close ties to the Democratic Party and Gov. John Waihee are the only local lawyers selected as bond counsels to advise the state since Yukio Takemoto took over as budget director in 1987.
Attorneys Renton L.K. Nip and William Yuen, and their law firms, have garnered all of the legal work that isn't controlled by mainland bond specialists...
One of the main buyers of state bonds is the Hawaiian Tax-Free Trust, the largest mutual fund focusing on island bonds. Investments for the fund are controlled by Hawaiian Trust Co., a subsidiary of Bank of Hawaii, the state's biggest bank....
In late 1991, Takemoto named Hawaiian Capital Securities* for the first time to the coveted role of co-manager for $400 million of bonds for the state airport system....
From The Price of Paradise, edited by Dr. Randall Roth:
by Jim Dooley
In Hawaii, more so perhaps than in other places, one story leads to another. Pull one out of the ground, follow its roots, and you've got a million more.
I did a series of stories back in the early 1980s about secret land partnerships here, commonly known as "huis," that included influential public officials as investors.
One of the partnerships I discovered had quietly bought and sold a piece of property at Nukoli`i on Kauai several years earlier, turning a $4 million profit. The land itself turned out to be the subject of an intense anti-development campaign raging on the Garden Isle just at the time I discovered the hui. . .
Investors in the Nukoli'i hui, I learned, included a state supreme court justice, the son and daughter of former governor John Burns, and John E. S. Kim, a convicted tax evader and former lobbyist for Amfac (the state's largest corporation at that time). Amfac had sold Nukoli`i to the hui. A key Amfac executive turned up as a hui investor.
Another investor was Edwin Honda, a state circuit judge who earlier had been director of the State Dept of Regulatory Affairs (DRA), the agency that is supposed to oversee public registration of business partnerships.
I asked Honda if he thought the hui should have been registered. He told me the question had never come up when he was the boss of the DRA (which was when the Nukoli`i hui was formed). So I addressed the question to DRA official Russel Nagata, who later became state comptroller. Nagata told me the hui probably should have been registered, but later he changed his position when interviewed by George Cooper, coauthor with Gavan Daws of Land and Power.
Years later, I accidently discovered that Nagata, while serving as state comptroller, had doctored a copy of a state record before giving it to me. He had carefully excised a portion of the memo which concerned state protocol spending, to make it look like I had received a complete document.
The missing paragraph concerned Bank of Hawaii vice president Dolly Ching's role in providing credit cards to state officials for their use in charging protocol expenses. At the time, Ching was a member of the Judicial Selection Commission, which later selected Russel Nagata to be a state district judge.
Are you getting the picture here? The original Nukoli`i story, written in 1981, was connected to the doctored documents story written in 1992, which was connected to the Judicial Selection Commission story, which was connected to other Dolly Ching stories I then wrote.
* * *
HONOLULU, HI Political Contributions by Individuals
JOHN R CANDON (BANK OF HONOLULU), (Zip code: 96813) $300 to AMERICAN BANKERS ASSOCIATION BANKPAC on 06/20/90
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Originally posted: May 11, 2008
Last updated: August 9, 2009, by The Catbird.