Two appointees to the NMI Retirement Fund board of trustees received the Senate's nod following a confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
Jose T. Limes and Martin San Nicolas' confirmation brings the total number of board trustees to four, which re-establish its quorum to function.
The other trustees are Nacrina Barcinas and Adelina Roberto. Three slots remain vacant to complete the seven-member body.
With this development, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial is now seeking the ouster of court-appointed trustee ad litem Joseph C. Razzano, who has been operating the pension agency since September 2012.
The administration formally filed yesterday with the federal court its request to seek the removal of the trustee ad litem, arguing that the Fund board has regained capacity and has the authority to represent the Fund's interests in ongoing cases involving the agency.
The government claims that the federal court did not prohibit the governor from appointing trustees when it appointed the trustee ad litem.
“The board has regained capacity, and as a result, the need for the [trustee ad litem] has ceased. The court appointed the [trustee ad litem] pursuant to Rule 17(c) solely because the Fund lacked a quorum and could not defend itself in this suit. Now that the board has quorum and has regained capacity, the need for the [trustee ad litem] has ended,” stated the court filing, adding that the removal of the trustee ad litem is supported by both law and public policy.
The government also argued that the administration of the Fund is a local matter and should be carried out by the duly appointed trustees and removing the trustee ad litem would save hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of the litigation.
According to court documents filed yesterday, Razzano billed $60,949.83 for fees and expenses in just the two months on the position. This rate, according to the government, is well above what an individual trustee would be entitled to for an entire year and more than the annual cap for the whole board.
It was disclosed that the trustee ad litem was paid rates ranging from $60 to $250 plus per diem and expenses. In contrast, board trustees are limited to $30 to $60 per meeting plus per diem while traveling. Under Commonwealth law, the annual compensation for any trustee may not exceed $6,000 and assuming that there was a full seven-member panel on the board, the total compensation for the seven trustees would be capped at $42,000 per annum.
Removing Razzano, according to the government, will prevent the trustee ad litem from depleting public funds.
The procedure for terminating the power of an appointed trustee ad litem when capacity is restored varies. In some jurisdictions, they follow the rule that the powers of an appointed trustee ad litem automatically ceases as a matter of law when a represented party regains capacity. In other jurisdictions, they require a formal motion to remove the appointed trustee ad litem.
The government acknowledged that the court does not have a local rule governing the procedure for removing an appointed trustee ad litem. However, the government believes that the court's action-when it declined to include language in its previous order that the trustee ad litem would be relieved of his duties when a quorum is restored, and then directed the government to file its papers on the issue-indicates that the latter is the procedure the court would follow.