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Fed court orders BoH to turnover funds to Marisco

The federal court in Honolulu has ordered the Bank of Hawai’i (BoH)  to release to Marisco Ltd., more than $800,000 the bank has frozen in an American Samoa Government account, to fully satisfy a federal arbitration and court ruling this year.

BoH sought “instruction” from the federal court after it was ordered by the High  Court of American Samoa to return to the  ASG account, the money frozen after the federal court issued a writ of execution in June to garnish the $824,000 in ASG funds.  

The writ of execution followed a motion by Marisco, requesting payment for services it provided to ASG going back to 2009. With the writ issued, ASG filed a suit with the High Court to return the money to its bank account, saying that these funds include both local and federal grants.

After the High Court ruling, BoH filed a motion for stay of execution to await a decision by the federal court. BoH’s stay motion is set for a hearing next month.

Last Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi ordered BoH to “tender and disburse” the amount of $824,017.15 to Marisco, Ltd. pursuant to the federal writ of execution.  

Kobayashi, in her 16 page opinion and order, states that this case began at the federal court and ASG had waived all rights when the matter was presented to a federal arbitrator for disposition.  She says ASG didn’t appeal the federal arbitrator's decision nor the final order of the federal court.

A footnote in Kobayashi’s order states that the federal “court is aware that BoH has received an order from the High Court requiring it to release funds frozen pursuant to the Writ of Execution and, although the [federal] court has the utmost respect for and goodwill towards the High Court, the Arbitration Agreement plainly sets forth the parties’ intent to vest exclusive jurisdiction in this matter, including over any award, in the United States District Court for the District of Hawai’i.”

When contacted last Friday, BoH declined to comment on when it plans to disburse the money to Marisco and also declined to comment on Kobayashi’s ruling.  

An ASG official says the federal court ruling does not have any impact on tomorrow’s pay day, as the payroll expenditures were already covered prior to the ruling.

More details in tomorrow’s edition.