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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (Sept. 13, 1999 – Saipan Tribune)---Federal Judge Alex Munson denied a motion on Saturday to release the two seized ferries owned by Tinian Shipping & Transportation, Inc. (TSTI) after attempts by the disputing parties to negotiate a new loan payment plan ended in a deadlock.

Munson ordered the seizure of the Saipan Express and the Tinian Express two weeks ago in connection with the lawsuit filed by Debis Financial Services, Inc. to which TSTI owes an outstanding loan amount of $7,616,000.

TSTI, a subsidiary of Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, on Friday asked the court to release the vessels by the weekend to allow the resumption of passenger and cargo operations.

The Saipan Express and the Tinian Express cater primarily to casino customers on Tinian.

At Friday's hearing, Munson said he was convinced that both parties were willing to settle the loan payment problems.

However, during the continuation of the hearing on Saturday, attorneys for TSTI and Debis failed to reach a compromise on the payment arrangements, Munson said.

"They were going to come up with a mortgage on the release but no conclusion has been reached so far," Munson said in a brief telephone interview.

"The parties agreed to continue to work it out," Munson said.

He said he will issue a written order today related to the motion, and a new hearing will be scheduled again this week.

According to the original agreement, TSTI was to pay Debis $753,270 every six months.

But the economic crisis in the region has affected Tinian Dynasty and brought the company into financial distress, making it unable to pay its loan to Debis.

In an earlier interview, TSTI spokesman Anthony Ha said an agreement for a payment schedule was reached between TSTI and Debis last May.

However, he said Debis billed TSTI for additional interest as a result of its default on three payments.

TSTI did not agree on the amount billed by Debis, saying it was miscalculated.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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