Judge wants to see casino tax breakdown; commends NMI government

DISTRICT Court for the NMI designated Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood on Tuesday ordered Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson to provide a breakdown of the Saipan casino gross revenue tax payments.

The judge at the same time commended Gov. Ralph Torres and the Legislature for making timely payments to the Settlement Fund.

The judge issued upon the request of Settlement Fund trustee Joyce Tang.

Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood

Larson has been ordered to provide the information one week from Oct. 24, 2017.

The court noted that the casino GRT has become a primary source of revenue for the CNMI government.

In the same order, the judge directed the trustee and Deputy Attorney General Lilian Tenorio to meet with retiree Mariano Taitano and discuss his concerns.

Taitano has told the court that the Settlement Fund trustee should be replaced by someone form Saipan. Tang is from Guam.

Taitano is also unhappy with the trustee’s failure to pursue litigation against a software company that provided a defective software pension system that cost over $400,000.

In her order on Tuesday, the judge said she is pleased with the status of the case and commended the trustee and the Betty Johnson class action counsels for adhering to fulfill their fiduciary duties.

The judge at the same time noted and recognized the diligent cooperation of the CNMI government with the trustee in making regular payments of $1 million per week to the Settlement Fund that allows it to avoid drawing down on its investments and thus extending the fund’s investment horizon.

The judge commended Governor Torres and the Legislature for making payments to the retirees a priority.

“Not only do the retires receive the 75 percent payments guaranteed under the settlement agreement, but the CNMI government also continues to pay the retirees the 25 percent benefit payment and has approved a bonus payment of over $1,000 for each retiree for fiscal year 2018,” Judge Tydingco-Gatewood said.

The court “appreciates the hard work of these leaders in serving the needs of the retirees while balancing the competing interests of the entire community in a timely, appropriate and responsive manner.”

The judge likewise pointed out the close working relationship between Larson and Settlement Fund administrator Lilian Pangelinan and their weekly telephone conferences that help ensure that the Settlement Fund receives sufficient funds to make biweekly payments to the retirees.

At the trustee status update hearing, the judge said the turnaround of the case was unsurpassed and that the settlement agreement should be a model for all retirement funds across the nation.

The next status hearing was tentatively set for April 2018.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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