15 Nov 2008

CNMI court finds government liable for failing to pay contributions to retirment fund

1:30 pm on 15 November 2008

A judge in the Northern Marianas has found the government of the CNMI and Governor Benigno Fitial liable for failing to pay employee contributions to the Retirement Fund.

Associate Judge Kenneth Govendo said the sole issue remaining to be determined is the amount of damages owed to the Fund.

The unpaid employee contributions is said to be over 119.6 million US dollars.

The Saipan Tribune reports the judge granted the Fund's request for default judgment after the Attorney General's Office, as counsel for Fitial and the government, waited nearly two years to answer the complaint.

Judge Kenneth Govendo said the matter represents an issue of vital importance that will have far reaching consequences for every family in the Commonwealth.

He said for the government to say that it was unable to answer a lawsuit potentially worth upwards of 91 million dollars due to the 'press of other business' is both absurd and reprehensible.

He set the evidentiary hearing on the issue of damages for June 8-12, 2009.