Torres ordered to appear at hearing on Settlement Fund’s status


The federal court has ordered the court-appointed trustee of the NMI Settlement Fund to present an update on the status of the Settlement Fund.

U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood directed Joyce C. H. Tang, the principal representative of the Settlement Fund trustee, the law firm Civille & Tang PLLC ,to file the status report before Sept. 19.

Tydingco-Gatewood set a hearing on the status report on Sept. 26.

The judge ordered Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres and Finance Secretary David Atalig to be present at the hearing.

In Torres’ absence, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios is ordered to appear at the hearing.

With the CNMI government faced with a cash flow problem that is being blamed on Super Typhoon Yutu’s devastation in October 2018, the government and the NMI Settlement Fund Ttrustee have agreed to a payment plan in order for the Commonwealth pay the remaining balance of $4.8 million out of the $15.1 million in minimum annual payment due by the end of March 2019.

Last March, the CNMI government, the NMI Settlement Fund, and Betty Johnson filed in federal court an agreement about paying the second quarter minimum annual payment (MAP).

Under the 2013 settlement agreement in Johnson’s class action, the CNMI government is required to pay the second quarterly MAP in the amount of $15.13 million on or before March 31, 2019.

MAP may be paid in irregular installments over the course of the fiscal year they are due, but the CNMI must pay at least 15% of the annual payment by the end of the first quarter of each fiscal year; 50% by the end of the first six months of the fiscal year; 70% by the end of the third quarter of the fiscal year; and the balance by the end of the fiscal year.

The parties said the balance on the second quarterly MAP on March 31 is $4,758,334.

The trustee and the CNMI government agreed to a payment plan in order to avoid a breach of the settlement agreement in Johnson’s lawsuit and because of the exceptional circumstances brought about by Yutu.

The payment schedule would bring the government current on its MAP weekly payments and to pay the remaining balance of $4.8 million by April 30, 2019.

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

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