Previous Commonwealth Utilities Corp. executive directors and legal counsels have found unwarranted a construction firm’s ongoing claim of $904,619 for past projects, acting CUC executive director John Riegel told Saipan Tribune yesterday.
The construction firm, TM Corp., spoke to the board last week through former senator Pete Reyes.
TM Corp. believes it has a $904,619 claim on a sewer extension project in Chinatown that dates back more than a decade ago to 2001. TM Corp. says because of this lack of payment, the company has since closed down as majority of its assets were tied to this project.
When sought for an update on the issue, Riegel said CUC counsel has invited the firm to look and make copies of CUC files as CUC has deferred the claim to the Office of the Attorney General.
Riegel said previous executive directors and legal counsels have already given an opinion about the claim, which TM Corp. has brought to CUC’s attention in past years.
“The opinion was that there is no additional compensation warranted,” Riegel said.
The claim, according to Riegel, is an “additional compensation” for “stand-by time” and work the firm had to excavate hard rock from their construction site.
Riegel said the firm needed special rock-breaking equipment to dig through the soil.
“…If the assertion is that they haven’t been paid for work done, that’s not true,” Riegel said. “They were paid a million dollars or so for completed work.”
He said CUC counsels have found “no justification for additional compensation,” per the terms of contract, but “[TM Corp.] is of a different opinion,” Riegel said.
Last Wednesday, Reyes brought to the CUC board’s attention an Open Government Act request that was past its 10-day deadline.
“We heard it was being forwarded to the AG’s Office…So we wanted to make sure we had all the documents referenced to the issue only that affected the claim,” Reyes said.
“The reason for that is we wanted to make sure we had the same record so we can review that, and make sure that if we were going to bring this further for legal remedy, then we have all these requirements with us so we are not going to be facing any surprises,” he said.
According to Reyes, a June 16 letter invoking the OGA was not acknowledged until last Wednesday. Reyes said he was later informed that CUC counsel James Sirok was off-island and did not receive a copy of the letter. Reyes said they sent a follow up OGA letter on July 1.
Last month, the CUC board voted to defer TM Corp.’s $904,619 claim to the Attorney General’s Office, explaining that the original contract was with the local government and not the utility.