David C. Farmer, Successor-Trustee vs. Harmon
(Formerly Woo vs. Harmon & Nicholson vs. Harmon)
CV05-00030 DAE KSC
U.S. District Court For the District of Hawaii
Judges: David A. Ezra; Kevin S. Chang
Former Hawaii Land Use Commissioner (along with Sharon Himeno); former attorney with the Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson & Hand law firm; partner with former Hawaii Governor John Waihee in the law firm of Waihee & Nip; bankruptcy attorney for Sukamto Sia.
Address To Be Determined
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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....
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April 10, 1996
Jossem will join Waihee
in D.C. law firm
The big outfit has contacted several other
high-profile isle attorneys
By Rick Daysog, Star-Bulletin
Former Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Jared Jossem plans to join former Gov. John Waihee as a local partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm.
According to a source close to the deal, Jossem will join Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson Hand.
The 160-attorney firm has approached several other high-profile local lawyers in a push to expand its Hawaii operations, the source said.
Besides Jossem and Waihee, the firm's big-name recruits include former Land Use Commissioner Renton Nip and Norma Wong, former Office of State Planning deputy director in the Waihee administration.
"We see enormous potential in Hawaii and we will be expanding the areas of practice in that office," said Rosemary Freeman, the firm's director of public affairs. She declined to confirm Jossem's hiring.
Jossem, a longtime partner in the firm of Torkildson Katz Jossem Fonseca Jaffe Moore & Hetherington, declined comment on the matter. He took over as GOP chairman in 1991 and stepped down in 1994.
Waihee did not return calls.
Current Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Tatibouet said she was unaware of Jossem's move.
"I see it more as a professional move rather than as a political move," said Tatibouet, who said she has known Jossem since their college days at Cornell.
Besides Honolulu, Verner Liipfert has offices in Houston and Austin, Texas. Locally, the firm has represented Bishop Estate in its lobbying efforts in Washington. The firm lobbied under contract for the state Department of Transportation on aviation, highway and mass transit funding issues.
Last year, Gov. Ben Cayetano canceled that nonbid contract, saying the circumstances surrounding it created the appearance of impropriety.
Waihee and the law firm, which earned some $1 million in fees from the contract, insisted the contract was proper.
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Renton Nip is expected to testify regarding his business, personal, professional, and political relationships with Diane Plotts, Bob Awana, Linda Lingle, George Ariyoshi, John Waihee, Yukio Takemoto, Ben Cayetano, Calvin Say, Bank of Hawaii, Donna Tanoue, Kirk Caldwell, RightStar Management, Guido Giacometti, Susan Tius, Sukamto Sia, Warren Price, Henry Peters, Richard “Dickie” Wong, Masayuki Takabuki, Jeffrey Stone, William McCorriston, Michael May, Hawaiian Electric Company, Marcus Polivka, Bill Mills, Franklin Tokioka, Jeffrey Watanabe, Stuart Ho, Allen Doane, Alexander & Baldwin, J. Douglas Ing, Watanabe Ing & Kawashima, L. Richard Fried, Jr., Jeffrey Stone, Kevin Showe, Linda Lingle, Robert Katz, Roger Fonseca, Jared Jossem, Torkildson Katz Fonseca Jaffe Moore & Hetherington, Sidney Ayabe, Walter Dods, Richard Turbin, James Kobayashi, Frank Goto, Duncan McNaughton, Bert Kobayashi, Stanford Carr, Wayne Rogers, Colbert Matsumoto, Island Holdings, Hawaii Land Use Commission, Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), Paul Alston, Robert Herkes, Larry Mehau, Yukio Takemoto, GTE Hawaiian Tel, Data House, Sato & Associates, Milton Holt, Nathan Aipa, Colleen Wong, Lyn Anzai, Earl Anzai, Judge Lloyd King, Judge David Ezra, Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, Gayle Lau, Mary Lou Woo, Steven Guttman, James Nicholson, David C. Farmer, Maui Planning Commission, Judith Neustadter Fuqua, Sharon Himeno, Stanley Himeno, and others to be named upon discovery.
Originally posted: October 13, 2005, by The Catbird
Latest update: April 26, 2009
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October 13, 2005: Originally posted on www.the-catbird-seat.net
March 13, 2007: Judge David Ezra signs Order to shut down website
April 26, 2009: Latest update on www.kycbs.net
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