Federal charges against Adnan Khashoggi and exiled Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos are only the latest financial storm weathered by creditors of Triad America Corp. But, at least for now, the $32 million set aside to repay some of their debt appears safe.
Two local officials involved with the estate are still trying to catch their breath after weathering the waves beating against a court-approved settlement.Through the efforts of Triad trustee R. Todd Neilson and attorney Danny Kelly, creditors of Adnan Khashoggi's bankrupt financial empire escaped a potentially deadly storm Friday, when Khashoggi was indicted on federal charges of fraud, racketeering and obstruction of justice in connection with a real estate deal involving Marcos.
But Kelly described another, yet unreported storm to the Deseret News Saturday that also could easily have sunk the fragile ship creditors have been sailing ever since Neilson and Khashoggi struck an agreement in August. The federal indictments could have resulted in a court-ordered freeze on all Khashoggi assets.
Kelly said he and Neilson were also worried earlier this month that the State Department or the White House would quash their attempt to get a $47 million check from Northrop Corp. The money was owed to Khashoggi for brokering arms deals between the contractor and a foreign country. As part of the court-approved agreement, Khashoggi has allowed Neilson to claim $32 millionof the money for Triad's creditors.
"In view of the tremendous defense contractor scandals unfolding, particularly in Korea, we were very concerned that Northrop could be prevented from payingmoney to anyone _ either through a court order, or an executive order, or through the State Department. It's on that scale," Kelly said.
"I want to be clear that we didn't have any reliable inside knowledge about Northrop, but we were concerned and had enough information to be concerned about whether they would be able to pay anyone."
Neilson raced the clock to secure the check on Oct. 7 after finding out that another Khashoggi creditor was trying to get a California court to put it in an independent bank account and out of Neilson's control.
The race continued when Neilson got home, as he tried to cash the check locally, at first without success because local banks were concerned about the validity of the check. It sat in a bank vault losing a potential $12,000 in interest each day until First Security Bank cashed it.
"First Security went out of their way to facilitate an expeditious transaction," Kelly said. "Obviously they had an interest in getting it completed, because they're one of the creditors. But they helped us cut through a lot of the red tape that ordinarily would have gotten us bogged down."
He said even though the bank has been hurt by its initial reliance on Triad, "it is sufficiently familiar with Khashoggi and his companies and also had some contacts in Europe that they received the assurances they needed that it was all legitimate and would be honored."
With the $32 million now sitting safely in Key Bank, Neilson and Kelly will continue to work on problems that have to be resolved before they can disburse the money to creditors. They must still get waivers from half a dozen of Khashoggi's major creditors, saying they won't hold him liable in the future for any money not recouped in the settlement. They must also weed out illegitimate claims against Triad America and address several claims by California-based Oasis Petroleum totaling $4 billion.
As for Khashoggi's problems, Kelly said they can't affect the money now tucked away for creditors. "We even had those four (New York) office buildings that are the subject of the indictment written in as part of the agreement. It says that if we re-ceive any of Khashoggi's supposed interest in them _ $3 million was the figure we were discussing _ it would be credited against the $32 million."
Consequently, Kelly said, if _ after all the federal charges are settled _ Triad should be in line to receive money from the buildings, it would all revert back to Khashoggi.