DAEWOOSA SAMOA ATTORNEY SEEKS COMPLETE INVENTORY, INSPECTION OF COMPANY

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By La Poasa

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (August 13, 2001 - Samoa News)---While her other client Kil-Soo Lee sits in jail in Honolulu to await trial, Daewoosa Samoa attorney Marie Ala’ilima Lafaele continues to tend to the now-closed company’s interests before the High Court.

After a hearing last Thursday morning, Associate Justice Lyle Richmond took under advisement two motions that Lafaele filed early last month.

One motion sought to reconsider the court’s order discharging its receiver and the other sought to stay any payments made to the receiver until after an inspection of Daewoosa’s remaining assets.

When the court discharged the receiver, its order noted that the receiver is entitled to $20,000 as the balance owed on the fee for its services.

However, the receiver had advised the court during a hearing prior to the discharge order that he would accept a cash payment of $7,260.50, the balance of the funds in Daewoosa’s receivership account.

Additionally, he would accept the transfer of title from ASG to him for "certain equipment listed in ASG’s inventory of personal property located" at the Daewoosa compound in Tafuna.

Lafaele wants the court to reconsider its order until Mr. Lee has had the opportunity to "review the receiver’s reports and documents concerning claims against Daewoosa’s assets and given a reasonable opportunity to respond."

Lafaele told the court that "access to Mr. Lee is extremely limited" due to his incarceration in Honolulu but she is doing what she can, given the circumstances.

Additionally, the "defendants (Daewoosa Samoa and Mr. Lee) are being denied fair process and procedure in defending themselves against claims without reasonable opportunity to review documents and consult with their attorney."

Court Testimonies

Last Thursday’s hearing centered on the question of alleged looting of the Daewoosa compound of new clothing, small machinery and other items from the dormitory and the factory building.

The court heard testimony from two police officers who investigated the alleged looting of the Daewoosa compound.

Officers Sailele and Fuiava recalled that there were three incidents earlier this year whereby local residents were reported wearing clothes made by Daewoosa.

The first incident was called into the police by Southwest Marine general manager Jim Fones, whom the court had appointed as the company’s receiver.

The officers testified that in the other two incidents, the individuals who called them in gave the officers the names and phone numbers of two Vietnamese women who were allegedly peddling the Daewoosa-made clothing.

The names and phone numbers were given out in case the alleged buyers wanted to do business again.

Officer Fuiava said he obtained written statements and confiscated some clothes, which were placed in a locker at the police station.

He told the court that upon his return from off-island training, the file containing his investigation notes and written statements, and the clothes had disappeared, so far, without a trace.

Thus, no investigation report was forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office for possible prosecution.

The court also heard testimony from former Daewoosa manager Virginia Soliai, who returned to the Territory last week for the hearing. Soliai testified that during her visit last Wednesday to the compound, she saw "holes" in the walls and noticed that washing machines, other equipment and clothing that were there before she left in March were no longer there.

The three witnesses and attorney Lafaele submitted personal affidavits to the court about these accounts.

Lafaele said during the hearing that the receiver did not include in his report the "incidents" about the alleged looting of clothing and small machinery from the compound.

The attorney also admitted into evidence a videotape from last April of the conditions then at the Daewoosa compound.

She asked the court to grant her and her agents the opportunity to conduct a full inventory and inspection of Daewoosa’s assets at the compound and wherever else Daewoosa assets are located.

She said the receiver had the responsibility to take care of what was at the compound for the interested parties involved in the suit, but it seems that he failed to do so.

Fones Response

After a short discourse on the merits of Lafaele’s motion for reconsideration, a clearly disappointed Fones asked the court to deny the motion with prejudice.

At one point, he said Lafaele should be "sanctioned" for filing such a motion. Then he said he was not used to the way things are done at the High Court level as compared to his many years of practicing law at the federal level.

Fones called the affidavits "all a bunch of hearsay that shouldn’t be admissible."

He called Lafaele’s contention that access to her client, Mr. Lee, is "extremely limited, absolutely false and a misrepresentation to this court."

"For many years, since I have been practicing federal law, I can get a hold of a federal prisoner much faster than those in county and city jails because the federal prisons have a procedure to follow," he recalled.

"The only time you can’t talk to the prisoners is when they are bed, eating, showering or there are in a lock down," Fones told the court.

Concerning the April videotape of the compound, Fones said a copy of the video was never made available to him as the receiver. He said the receivership was supposed to be informed by the interested parties concerning matters pertaining to Daewoosa but most of the time during the receivership, "I had to go out and get the information out of them."

As to why the "incidents" involving clothes disappearing from the compound were not reported in the receiver’s report, Fones answered that he consulted with the court about the matter.

He explained that two Vietnamese males were taking clothes out of the factory and were giving them to two Vietnamese ladies who sold them around the island. He said the incidents stopped immediately after he was able to receive funding to post security guards at the compound.

Further, he said to have prosecuted the four Vietnamese workers "would have opened up another can of worms."

"To prosecute two people who sold the clothes in order to buy food? I’m not sure I want to go down that path but I consulted with the court about the matter in private," Fones explained.

Concerning Lafaele’s motion to request a stay of disbursement of payment to the receiver until she and her agents inspect Daewoosa assets at the Tafuna compound and anywhere else, Fones replied "well, (the assets) are located in New York, New Jersey, Korea, the dock, the compound and in containers.

"What is it that Mr. Lee and his counsel want?" he asked loudly in the courtroom. "Do they want an unlimited amount of time to go around the world counting the assets of this bankrupt corporation?"

He said if anything, the government, which has now taken over the compound, should be the one coming to the receiver and asking the receiver about the conditions of the buildings.

"Even if they can prove that the receiver negligently had the entire building removed from the compound, so what?" Fones told the court.

"It is the property of ASG. They are the ones that should come to the receiver and say, ‘receiver, you let our building go out,’" he added.

About the hole damage at the compound, Fones said, "There was no money to pay for security guards, and yet Mr. Lee had the audacity to come to this court and ask for equity and justice and say ‘why didn’t Mr. Fones do a better job protecting the stupid washing machines?’"

"Well, Mr. Fones didn’t have the money. I was lucky to receive a generous donation from a local church organization which provided food for the workers," he continued.

Overall, the receiver, who was paid in advance for the work, said Mr. Lee’s motion to reconsider the award to the receiver "is spitting on the robes of (this) court" as it implies that "the court didn’t do a good job."

"I really don’t know where we are going with this (motion), I really don’t," he testified.

Tafuna Compound Inventory

Assistant Attorney General Henry Kappel, representing ASG in the matter, said that he received Thursday morning, prior to the hearing, a detailed inventory report of the Tafuna compound from the Real Property Management Office.

The Real Property Management Office was instructed by the government to do specific inventory on the items at the compound.

Kappel was to distribute the information to the parties involved in the matter.

Another separate hearing scheduled for August 20th will include the update on the newly received inventory by RPM. In addition, other new matters will be discussed.

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa’s daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send email to

For additional reports from the Samoa News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa News.

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