Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho denied yesterday Korean businessman Soo Gon Kim’s motion for a temporary restraining order to stop his brother and his company from selling their Gold Beach Hotel Saipan and any other assets of their company.
Camacho issued the order after Soo, his brother Hyung Gon Kim, and their mother, 78-year-old Tae Bong Kim, appeared and testified in court at the TRO hearing.
The judge noted, among other things, that there’s no public interest for the court to consider and that whatever damages they may be can be reduced to payment of money.
Camacho said there are serious issues about the transfer of shares, but the hearing yesterday was not to determine the merits of the case.
Soo is suing Hyung and the latter’s Northstar Corp. to stop them from selling the 50-room Gold Beach Hotel, located along Beach Road, Garapan.
Soo, through counsel Vincent DLG. Torres, also asked the court to issue a TRO and a preliminary injunction prohibiting Hyung and Northstar Corp. from selling the hotel and any other assets of their company, MARISAI Inc.
According to Torres, one of MARISAI’s assets is the Gold Beach Hotel. The lawyer said Soo owns 200,000 shares of MARISAI since February 1997, while his brother, Hyung, owns 190,000 shares.
Torres alleged that in March 2010, Hyung unilaterally transferred Soo’s 200,000 shares to their mother, Tae Bong Kim. Hyung then filed and signed the annual corporate report for the year 2009 reflecting the new transfer.
Soo alleged that he did not sell or transfer any of his shares to their mother and that he did not authorize his brother to make the transfer.
Torres said that, in February 2015, Soo received information that Hyung sold the hotel for $2.6 million and a $600,000 down payment had already been made, with the balance to be paid in full in the next couple of months.
At yesterday’s hearing, Torres said his client relied on Hyung’s representation to manage Gold Beach Hotel and that not a single penny was transferred to MARISAI Inc.
“This court is only the remedy,” Torres said, adding that the main litigation is that Hyung has no authority to sell the hotel to his own company, Northstar Corp.
Torres said Soo wants to take back the hotel from Northstar Corp. and put it back to MARISAI Inc. where it belongs.
“We want the court to maintain the status quo,” Torres said.
Torres asserted that time is of the essence in this case because if Hyung completely sells the hotel, receives full payment, takes the money and flees from the CNMI, Soo will be left with much damage.
Colin Thompson, counsel for Hyung and Northstar Corp., said the status quo is that Gold Beach Hotel has already been sold.
Thompson said the court cannot enjoin Hyung from doing that which has already been done.
Thompson said the sensible resolution is to deposit the proceeds of the sale in the court’s account or to a trust account.
Thompson said pure monetary injuries are not normally irreparable. He also argued, among others, that because the alleged sale of the hotel is between private parties, there is no public interest for the court to look into.
In plaintiff’s rebuttal, Torres said the main issue is not the money, but MARISAI’s assets, the hotel that belongs to his client, Soo.
“It’s about the assets that we’re concerned,” he said.
In his testimony, Hyung said he is willing to share the hotel’s profits. He said he negotiated the sale of the hotel.
Hyung said since 1997 he has been supporting his mother. He stated he borrowed money from Northstar, his company, to renovate the hotel.
He said his brother Soo asked to get half of payment from the hotel’s sale out of $2.6 million.
Hyung said he refused his brother’s request for $1 million, but that he is willing to give him $500,000.
Hyung said he agrees to place the disputed proceeds of the sale in a court’s account or trust account pending resolution of the case.
Hyung said his wife has been operating the hotel since 2013.
Hyung said he told his mother to transfer her shares to his brother.
On his part, Soo testified that he owns 200,000 shares of MARISAI or 51 percent and that his brother owns 190,000 shares of 49 percent.
Presented with a document showing that his mother now owns 200,000 of his shares, Soo stressed that he did not sell or transfer his shares to his mother.
Soo said that at a board meeting in August 2009 in Korea, it was discussed that Hyung would borrow money from Northstar to renovate the hotel.
In that meeting, Soo said he never gave the authority to sell the hotel or authorize the transfer of his shares to his mother.
The mother, Tae Bong Kim, testified, through an interpreter, said Soon never sold or transferred his MARISAI shares to her.
Tae also stated that she never authorized the sale of the hotel.