DPL official affirms receiving $20K consultancy fee

But denies racketeering

Department of Public Lands official Ramon S. Salas affirms that he was sent on a trip to South Korea where he met several financial backers of an investor, and that he later got paid $20,000 as a consultancy fee when he was no longer employed with DPL.

The investor, Il Hwan Kim, and his former company, KSA Corp., have filed a racketeering lawsuit against Salas and several others in federal court

In his declaration, Salas strongly denied that he ever took any actions or participated in any “pattern of racketeering activities.”

Salas’ declaration was filed before the U.S. District Court for the NMI in support of his motion for summary judgment in the racketeering lawsuit filed by Kim and KSA Corp.

Salas said he first met Kim, through Jeon Eun Taek. He said he and Taek are both members of the Saipan Golf Association.

Salas recalled that sometime in mid-2007, Taek stopped by his place of work at DPL to inquire about the leasing of a public land in San Antonio.

He said Taek mentioned then that he knew of somebody who was interested in leasing the San Antonio land.

Salas said he brought Taek to the planning section of DPL for them to assist him.

He said several days later after Taek’s inquiry, Taek brought Kim to DPL, where he first met him.

Salas said as time went on, Hun Jin An started showing up at DPL, at times accompanying Kim and Taek.

At Kim’s request, Salas said he arranged a meeting with Kim and then-governor Benigno R. Fitial to discuss his investment plans in the CNMI.

In that meeting, Salas said Kim assured Fitial that he had the financial means and resources to lease the San Antonio property and to develop it by building a hotel.

To verify Kim’s financial means and resources, Salas said he was sent on a trip to South Korea, along with Taek, where he met several individuals introduced to him as Kim’s financial backers.

Upon his return to Saipan, Salas said he informed Fitial and then-DPL secretary John S. Del Rosario that it appeared to him that Kim has the financial means to pursue his investment plans, specially the lease of the San Antonio property and construction of a hotel on that property.

On Aug. 1, 2007, DPL entered into a lease agreement with Kim and KSA Corp. for the San Antonio property.

Several months later, Salas left his job with DPL as his contract, which ended in November 2007, was not renewed.

Salas said that, in mid-2008, Kim and KSA Corp., through An, approached him to see if he could assist them in their planned investment as a consultant.

Salas said he informed An that, because of his previous employment with DPL, he had concerns about assisting them with respect to any DPL issues.

He said he eventually sought legal advice about this and, based on the advice, he felt comfortable in assisting Kim and KSA. Thus, Salas said, he entered into an agreement to be a consultant for Kim and KSA on Sept. 12, 2008.

Salas disclosed that although he was supposed to be paid a consultancy fee of $60,000, he was only paid $20,000 for work he had done as he was informed that the agreement was being terminated for lack of funds.

Salas showed a copy of the consultancy agreement.

DPL re-employed Salas in October 2011.

He said that sometime after his return to DPL, Kim showed up at DPL. This time, he was inquiring about leasing public lands in Marpi. Salas said he directed Kim to the DPL planning section.

Salas denied that he conspired with any of the defendants in this case or any unknown persons against Kim and KSA or knew of any conspiracy to defraud them, much less to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act.

Attorney Brien Sers Nicholas, counsel for Salas, stated in the motion for summary judgment that the undisputed facts of this case clearly prove that Salas could not have committed any conspiracy to defraud Kim and KSA or much less violate RICO.

Nicholas said Kim and KSA allege that Salas along with An, Taek, and Joann P. Hensley formed an “association-in-fact,” which Kim and KSA further allege as being the RICO enterprise in this case.

Yet, Nicholas said, several paragraphs later in the complaint, Kim and KSA allege that the RICO enterprise was formed by An, Taek, Hensley to defraud Kim and KSA, to the exclusion of Salas.

“Simply put, it is undisputed that no facts exist to support plaintiffs’ claim that Salas was part of the RICO enterprise in this case,” the lawyer pointed out.

Nicholas said there exists no evidence whatsoever to support the totally unfounded claims by Kim and KSA that Salas received any bribe or extorted money from the plaintiffs.

The federal court had already dismissed former House speaker Oscar M. Babauta as one of the defendants in this case.

Last March, Kim and KSA Corp., through counsel Jennifer Dockter, requested the court to issue a default judgment against Salas’ co-defendants An, Taek, and Joann P. Hensley.

Dockter said An, Taek, and Hensley continue to fail to file any answer or other responsive pleadings.

Kim and KSA alleged in their lawsuit that the defendants conspired to steal millions of dollars from him for his hotel and casino project on Saipan.

Kim and KSA Corp. sued the defendants pursuant to RICO and other causes of action.

The plaintiffs asked the court to hold the defendants liable to pay them damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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