FHB seeks to deposit disputed $224,558 with clerk of court


Saying it is a mere stakeholder, First Hawaiian Bank has asked the federal court to allow it to deposit with the clerk of court $224,558.71 in a savings account that is being disputed by a company’s shareholders and has dragged the bank into the lawsuit.

Once the disputed funds are deposited with the clerk of court, First Hawaiian Bank wants the U.S. District Court for the NMI to order that the bank be dropped from the lawsuit initiated by Universal Group Development Inc. (Saipan).

The bank, through counsel Richard L. Johnson, pointed out Friday that Rule 17 of its deposit accounts rules and regulations give the bank a contractual right under the circumstances presented in this case to deposit with the court the funds in the account.

Johnson said Rule 17 of the regulations also provide the bank the right to ask the court to resolve conflicting claims on the account and over the right to manage and receive the proceeds of the account, and to recover attorneys’ fees and costs incurred.

In its cross-claim interpleader filed Friday, the bank named as cross-defendants Wanzhong Yu, Mingnan Jin, and Jinwei Guo.

Interpleader refers to a civil procedure that allows a plaintiff to initiate a lawsuit in order to compel two or more other parties to litigate a dispute.

Universal Group is suing its former president and shareholder, Yu, for conversion and First Hawaiian Bank for breach of contract. Universal Group alleged that Yu and the bank blocked the company from gaining access to $225,000 of its own funds from a business savings account.

In his reply, Yu maintains that he is still president of the company and that he was indeed detained in China for 22 months caused by political influence exerted by his former business partners.

Jin and Guo are claiming that they are the officers and directors of Universal Group, and that Guo is now the sole shareholder.

In its interpleader, First Hawaiian Bank asked the court to dismiss with prejudice Universal Group’s claims against the bank.

Johnson also asked the court to restrain Yu, Jin, and Guo from instituting any action against the bank regarding the funds in the account.

Johnson wants the court to determine which, if any, of the three cross defendants are entitled to manage and received the funds in the account.

The lawyer requested the court to require the three to settle between themselves their rights to control, manage and receive the funds in the account.

The bank also seeks to recover its attorney’s fees and costs, using the funds in the account.

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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