GUAM GOVERNOR’S CHIEF OF STAFF DEFAULTED ON LOAN

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GUAM GOVERNOR’S CHIEF OF STAFF DEFAULTED ON LOAN One of many who owe Economic Development Authority

By Dionesis Tamondong

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 24, 2009) - The governor's chief of staff defaulted on a 1993 loan from the Guam Economic Development Authority, and it's unclear whether he still has to pay.

George Bamba, Gov. Felix Camacho's chief of staff, is among the more than 20 people and businesses who have yet to pay off their loans from GEDA. It's unclear how much George Bamba still owes GEDA for a 1993 loan, but from 2001 to 2005, the agency tried to collect more than $276,000 from him, his wife, Joyce Bamba, and his son Brian Bamba, according to court documents.

The trio started a company called Organic Products, also known as Pacific Mushrooms, and received more than $226,000 from GEDA to develop and operate a mushroom farm on island.

But they defaulted on the payments, and in 2001, GEDA filed a civil complaint against the Bambas. The Superior Court of Guam ordered them to pay.

The case files show the Superior Court ordered payments be levied from wages, bank accounts and property under the defendants' names, but there were no documents showing if any payments were actually made.

George Bamba wouldn't comment on the issue and referred all questions to his attorney in the case.

On Wednesday, Bamba's attorney, Peter Perez, said the case is under negotiation.

"We're still in settlement mode," he said. "We're trying to resolve whether GEDA's claim is still viable after all these years, or whether we can find a mutually acceptable environment where both parties can somehow receive some benefits and settle this case."

GEDA Administrator Tony Blaz wouldn't comment on the case because he said it was still in litigation.

Guam's public auditor on Wednesday released a report stating the economic development agency had $6 million in outstanding loan receivables, and it expects to collect only 14 cents of every dollar it is owed by delinquent borrowers. Some of the loans were issued as long as 20 years ago.

The loans were part of GEDA's program to increase and diversify local business on Guam.

According to court documents, GEDA demanded payment from the Bambas in letters sent on Nov. 30, 2000 and April 11, 2001.

After the Bambas failed to respond to the complaint filed against them in May 2001, Judge Joaquin Manibusan signed a judgment of default against the defendants.

They were ordered to pay not only the $276,744 they owed in principal loan payments and interest, but $14,287 in attorney fees, court documents state.

From 2001 to 2005, the court intermittently imposed and cancelled collections of the defendants' bank accounts, properties and wages.

Manibusan first ordered a levy on their properties and bank accounts on Dec. 3, 2002, but on Dec. 26, 2002, GEDA attorneys, which at the time was the Calvo and Clark firm, asked the court to cancel its levy order.

The first request to cancel the levy was because George Bamba had filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 22, 2002, in the District Court of Guam. That bankruptcy was dismissed in 2003, court documents state.

The levy order against Brian Bamba remained, but was canceled on Jan. 24, 2003, less than two months after the judge ordered the levy payments. The court order didn't state why the payment order was lifted.

On July 23, 2004, GEDA attorneys again asked the court to force the defendants to pay, and Judge Michael Bordallo granted the order a month later.

But on Sept. 3, 2004, GEDA attorneys again asked the court to cancel the levy, and their request was granted. Again, no reason was stated for the request.

Two more levy orders were issued on March and November 2005, which included orders to collect 25 percent of George Bamba's salary from the Office of the Governor and of Brian Bamba's salary from Mobil Oil Guam, according to court documents.

But those orders were again lifted about a month after they were issued with no reasons stated in the court orders as to why they were lifted.

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