Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios said he has been cooperative with the Department of Public Lands even before the Office of the Public Auditor came out with the report on the land that’s being leased by A&M Corp.
The OPA, in a report conducted after inspecting DPL’s assessment and collection fees for Lease No. L9104S, found that DPL and its predecessor—the Marianas Public Land Corp.—failed to properly assess Lot No. 057 E 05, which is being leased by Palacios.
Acting DPL secretary Marianne Teregeyo asserted that the $185,000 owed by the lessee is based on the calculation from a privileged attorney-client memo dated June 8, 2018, by the DPL legal counsel, assistant attorney general Matt Pugh, “to myself with cc copies to Evelyn Sablan, director of Finance, and Greg Deleon Guerrero, director of Compliance.”
She added that rental, holdover, and interest fees were properly assessed and collected, and included a ledger.
Saipan Tribune archives quotes Palacios in a story published last year that DPL and its legal counsel have agreed that the amount he allegedly owes is wrong.
Palacios said he wants to settle this issue once and for all. “My attorney has been trying to get an appointment with DPL and their legal counsel to discuss and resolve the issue, including the concerns raised by OPA in its report. Unfortunately, DPL has not been able to give a definite date for this meeting to take place as of yet. We requested the meeting in March and hopefully that discussion will take place soon,” he said.
Teregeyo added that her current management team at DPL is trying to address internal controls and measures to tighten their processes in order to protect the people of Northern Marianas descent.
“I have held employees accountable for their actions and or inactions, and always impress…the importance of ensuring that DPL bills and collects for usage of public lands,” said Teregeyo.