The plaintiff in the ongoing federal case involving the NMI Retirement Fund and the government wants trustee ad litem Joseph C. Razzano retained for the duration of the litigation.
In her latest filing yesterday, Betty Johnson asked designated judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood to retain Razzano in response to the Fund's motion to show cause for contempt and imposition of sanctions filed early last month.
According to Johnson, regardless of whether the court grants the motion for an order to show cause, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial's nominees to the Fund board cannot assume the duties of trustees of the Fund because of “irreparable conflicts of interests.”
“The Fund is adverse to the governor in this litigation, and the governor should not now be allowed to nominate people to run the very entity that is suing him. The court should retain the [trustee ad litem] and prevent the governor from trying to hijack the Fund and stop this lawsuit by nominating trustees whom the governor hopes will do his bidding and put the governor's and CNMI's interests above those of the Fund and its beneficiaries,” stated Johnson through her counsels.
Johnson believes that the governor's current nomination is an attempt to prevent the Fund from acting independently and to prevent the federal court from requiring the CNMI to comply with the law.
Johnson pointed out that the Fund has not had a quorum since at least July 31, 2012, when administrator Richard Villagomez's contract expired. “Yet, the governor did not attempt to appoint a new trustee until Nov. 14 after his attempt to seize the Fund through Executive Order 2012-06 was rejected by the court.”
Under this EO, the Fund was to be transferred to the Department of Finance.
“As long as the governor is adverse to the Fund in a lawsuit, a conflict of interest exists between him and whomever he nominates as Fund trustee. Trustees with conflicts of interest cannot act in this litigation, and this court has an obligation to prevent them from doing so and to allow only the trustee ad litem to act for the Fund,” added Johnson.
The government, through Attorney General Joey Patrick San Nicolas, continues to oppose the appointment of a receiver for the Fund, believing this will only further deplete funds.
But if the court decides to appoint a receiver, the government is recommending Mark Heath for the position.