Ahtna board fires president, legal counsel

Posted: Sunday, February 11, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The board of Ahtna Inc. has fired its president and chief executive officer.

Darryl Jordan was removed Saturday in an 8-1 board vote.

Board Chairman L. Paul Mayo resigned from the board, according to a broadcast report by KFQD-radio.

The corporation will be operated by a committee of three board members until the top vacancy is filled.

Ahtna's legal counsel, Patrick Anderson, is also being replaced.

Ahtna is one of 13 Alaska Native regional corporations.

Jordan's removal follows 13 months of dissension among the Glennallen-based corporation's shareholders and allegations of mismanagement of corporation assets.

Some shareholders questioned Jordan's status as a board member, president and chief executive officer of the corporation, while at the same time holding one-quarter ownership of Clearwater Environmental, one of Ahtna's affiliate companies.

Jordan in November sought to clear his name and asked the Ahtna board to investigate allegations that he and the head of Clearwater Environmental, Ed Cronick, personally profited in a deal to purchase a ship.

Jordan's management also has been questioned in regard to the company's government surplus acquisition of an airplane, and its subsequent use, and consolidation of lines of credit between Ahtna and Clearwater.

The ship dispute hinged on the acquisition of the 210-foot research vessel Moana Wave and how it was accounted for on company books.

Ahtna acquired the Moana Wave in 1999 for a $50,000 fee through a government surplus property program. The ship is a former Navy vessel that had been used by the University of Hawaii for marine research.

The vessel subsequently was transferred to Clearwater Environmental and was being contracted out on marine research jobs in the Pacific.

Some board members questioned the transfer as a maneuver to benefit Jordan and Cronick, who together own 49 percent of Clearwater, with Ahtna holding 51 percent.

The board authorized a committee of its members to hire an independent counsel to investigate. In a report Oct. 25, the attorney, Bruce Gagnon, wrote that the ship transfer appeared to have wiped out what would have been ''substantial losses'' Clearwater would have recorded for 1999, and that Jordan and Cronick each made approximately $1.33 million in the process.''

They did because the ship was recorded in Clearwater's books as $5.44 million in revenue. The booking also kept Ahtna in the black for 1999, according to the company's annual report.

An Anchorage Daily News story in November quoted Gagnon in his report saying he had never heard of or seen a company reporting substantial income upon the acquisition of an asset at nominal or no cost.

Dennis Mandell, chief financial officer for Ahtna subsidiaries, said both he and Clearwater's auditor were confident the ship was properly booked as income.

He also said it was always the intent that Clearwater end up with the ship and all Ahtna and Clearwater board members were so informed.

''It was Ed Cronick's vision and drive that landed this opportunity,'' Mandell told the Anchorage Daily News.

The ship originally went to Ahtna because the company had prior experience in acquiring surplus government property, he said.

However, due to surplus property rules particular to Native corporations, the ship, had Ahtna kept it, would have been confined to operating only in Alaska. That rule didn't apply to Clearwater, so the ship was transferred on the advice of government officials, Mandell said.

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