Court-appointed China Fishery trustee vows to remain neutral
In an interview with SeafoodSource, William J. Brandt Jr., who was named trustee of China Fishery’s Peruvian subsidiary CFG Peru Singapore by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge James Garrity on 11 November, said he would do his best to be a neutral party.
The appointment of Brandt, the CEO and president of New York-based financial restructuring and advisory firm Development Specialists, is effective immediately.
“I was appointed last Thursday, and since that time, there have been no shortage of meetings to get me caught up, and obviously I have been besieged by phone calls,” Brandt told SeafoodSource.
In his decision, Judge Garrity called the naming of a trustee “an extraordinary remedy,” but said “it is in the best interest of debtors’ estate and creditors that a trustee be appointed.”
Brandt said he has worked thousands of bankruptcy cases in his career, including a number of international cases, and he said that experience was a factor in Garrity’s decision to name him trustee.
“A judge puts a case in a trustee’s hands when he or she believes it needs a second set of eyes – someone who’s not as rooted in the matter to take charge, and that’s what happened here,” Brandt said. “The judge measurably refrained from blaming one side or the other, but he did explain the complexity of the arguments being made and the debate to be had. He would like to break the current logjam by getting a neutral party in here, and I very much accept that outlook.”
Brandt said he is still in “fact-finding mode” and working hard to learn the ins and outs of the case.
“A big part of this process is negotiation and I’m now doing fact-finding want so I can be fair to all sides,” he said. “I’m familiar with the players involved – none of this is a new revelation to me. Having said that, [the case] does look like a daunting task. People have held these positions now for some period of time. I need to roll up my sleeves and bring together the parties together, if possible.”
Asked how he would approach that undertaking, Brandt said he did not want to delve into the specifics of the case publicly.
“I’m trying to refrain from making any public comment on the individual facts or aspects of this case,” he said.
He did say that a strong motivator for the parties to come to an agreement is the expense of a lengthy litigation.
“As the trustee, I can now sue, be sued, litigate and mediate,” he said. “A judicious person going forward would take stock of the situation as it now is and realize that coming to some sort of agreement might be a better option than a lengthy litigation, which can become expensive.”
Brandt said he has been given no set timeframe from the court in which to resolve the matter.
“There’s no timeframe – I’m just supposed to get it done. A trustee has wide latitude in working in consultation with the court, creditors and in this case, the Ng family trying to get a consensual resolution if one can be arranged,” he said. “Up to this point, all sides involved have certainly not had any shortage of throwing bombs over the trenches. So my goal is to slow things down, hear from all sides, and try to map out the best way forward in a consensual basis if at all possible.”