Bidding for the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort ended Tuesday but not before allegations of bid rigging were cast upon two prospective buyers.
In a declaration filed Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Naniloa owner Ken Fujiyama claimed that failed bidders Ramco Properties LLC and America Asian Travel Center Inc. colluded to keep the price low.
Fujiyama, who couldn’t be reached for comment, wrote that AATC agreed to not outbid Ramco Properties in exchange for 5 percent ownership of the hotel.
AATC of Los Angeles had made the initial offer of $3.5 million last month. Ramco Properties of Honolulu later beat it with a bid of $3.7 million. Neither submitted higher bids in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Tuesday.
Neither AATC owner Helen Koo nor Ramco manager Gary Oda could be reached for comment.
But if the allegations are true, it could mean jail time for those responsible, said David Farmer, Naniloa’s bankruptcy trustee.
“That’s a serious, even criminal infraction,” he said.
Farmer said he informed the U.S. Trustee’s Office of the allegation. That office then has the option to forward the matter to the U.S. Attorney General’s Office for prosecution, he said.
Koo, whose legal name is Yee Shum Severson, also owns Hilo’s Nani Mau Gardens, which she purchased for $2.2 million from Fujiyama last year.
Ramco Properties is owned by the RAM Corporation, which is the majority owner of the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.