M/V Luta custodian seeks $82K payment

National Maritime Services wants to withdraw as vessel custodian if it’s not paid immediately

The custodian of cargo ship M/V Luta asked the federal court yesterday to require Japanese investor Takahisa Yamamoto to pay it a total of $82,463.33 for custodian services from October to December 2016.

National Maritime Services Inc., through counsel Sean E. Frink, asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to require Yamamoto to immediately pay the company $33,980.28 covering the period from Oct. 23 to Nov. 30, 2016.

Frink also asked the court to order Yamamoto to pay the estimated $48,502.05 in anticipated custody charges for December 2016.

National Maritime wants to be paid a total of $82,462.33 within 72 hours.

National Maritime Services president Alan Swimmer, in his declaration filed in court yesterday, stated that their company, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, provides marine vessel custodial services.

Swimmer said NMS has previously been appointed by the court to act as the substitute custodian for M/V Luta.

Swimmer said invoice for services rendered in October and November 2016 as well as written estimate for services rendered in December 2016 were presented to Yamamoto and his counsel last Nov. 22.

To date, Swimmer said, neither of the invoices have been paid.

“As a result, payment to NMS is past due and NMS could potentially withdraw as vessel custodian upon three days advance notice if payment is not rectified immediately,” Swimmer said.

Yamamoto is suing Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog and the owner/operators of M/V Luta. In his lawsuit, Yamamoto alleged that Hocog and co-defendants refused to pay back the $3.4 million that he put up for M/V Luta.

Yamamoto, through George Lloyd Hasselback, is suing Hocog, M/V Luta, Luta Mermaid LLC, Abelina T. Mendiola, Deron T. Mendiola, Fidel S. Mendiola III, Fidel Mendiola Jr., and Robert Toelkes.

Yamamoto is suing them for breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment.

The U.S. Marshal Service seized M/V Luta last Oct. 25 and appointed National Maritime Services Inc. as custodian.

After Yamamoto filed the case in federal court, two companies and crewmembers of M/V Luta also joined in the lawsuit.

It was former Department of Public Lands secretary John DelRosario who first filed a lawsuit against Hocog over the M/V Luta. Last May, DelRosario filed the taxpayer’s lawsuit against Hocog and Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson over the alleged adoption of a Rota Legislative Delegation Resolution 19-3 without public notice that purportedly authorized payment of $400,000 to Luta Mermaid, a private company owned by Hocog’s relatives.

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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