CUC: Yaquinto drew over $49K in unauthorized OT

Also said ex-CFO authorized wire transfers to Russia, Thailand

The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. accused its former chief financial officer, Matthew J. Yaquinto, of collecting $49,399 in unauthorized overtime pay, causing unauthorized wire transfers of $58,000 to Russia and Thailand, and failing to reimburse $10,000 in moving expenses to Saipan.

CUC, through counsel James S. Sirok, filed the counterclaim against Yaquinto in the U.S. District Court for the NMI yesterday.

CUC wants Yaquinto held liable to pay back the $49,399 in overtime payments, damages representing wire transfer costs, $10,000 in moving expenses, as well as court costs, expert fees, and attorney’s fees.

Yaquinto filed last Dec. 29 a discrimination lawsuit against CUC and five unnamed co-defendants over his termination as chief financial officer in May 2016 allegedly without cause and without the authority to do so.

Attorney David Banes, counsel for Yaquinto, stated, among other things, in the complaint that Yaquinto was terminated without review or explanation because he is Caucasian and not of NMI descent, and was replaced by a person with Northern Marianas descent who lacks the required qualifications to fill his position.

In CUC’s counterclaim, Sirok said that between July 22, 2015, and Nov. 14, 2015, Yaquinto calculated his time on his bi-weekly time sheets to include overtime that was not authorized by the acting CUC executive director or the CUC board of directors.

Sirok said Yaquinto did this knowing that he was not eligible for overtime pay as an “exempt” employee, and that such calculations were incorrect and did not represent the actual amount of overtime hours he worked.

The lawyer said the total number of unauthorized overtime hours Yaquinto included on his timesheets for payment to himself amounted to 386.5 hours, for a total overtime pay of $49,399 for a period of a little less than four months.

Sirok said as supervisor for the staff of the payroll section and for the chief of accounting, Yaquinto instructed the individuals there to pay him the overtime in addition to his regular salary.

Sirok said Yaquinto further instructed payroll and accounting, through the chief of accounting and others, to make salary advances to him for July to September 2015 in the total amount of $22,900.

The lawyer said Yaquinto also instructed the payroll and the accounting sections, through the chief of accounting and others, to wire transfer $58,000 of these funds to bank accounts in Moscow, Russia; Tbilisi, Georgia (former USSR); and Chonburi, Thailand.

He said a total of 11 wire transfers to these destinations were processed.

Sirok said Yaquinto never reimbursed or paid CUC for the costs of these wire transfers.

Sirok said that on April 21, 2015, Yaquinto requested payment from CUC of $10,000 as moving expenses to Saipan under his employment contract.

The lawyer said CUC paid the amount, but Yaquinto only provided a receipt of one airline ticket from Thailand to Saipan in the amount of $1,262.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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