Former ADN owner appeals order to turn over loan documents
Former Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals April 4 to challenge a judge’s order that Northrim Bank turn over all documents related to her 2014 loan used to purchase the company.
U.S. District of Alaska Bankruptcy Court Judge Gary Spraker’s decision allowed the court-appointed public trustee to examine Rogoff’s bank loan documents as part of a continuing examination of her finances aimed at repaying some of the debts she left behind after selling the paper last fall.
Rogoff attorney James Lister argued that Spraker’s March 21 decision “sets an erroneous standard for determining if confidential treatment of non-debtor’s personal information is warranted.”
Rogoff asserts she has complicated business interests that should be off limits from the limited liability corporation she created to operate the Alaska Dispatch News. She also has a confidential marital separation agreement with her former husband, billionaire and Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein. He got involved in the bankruptcy with a filing to demand the divorce terms remain confidential.
But the bottom line of Spraker’s recent decision is that Rogoff’s finances are not confidential as it relates to the $13 million loan from Northrim Bank used to purchase the Anchorage Daily News from McClatchy Co.
Spraker ordered Northrim to turn over all documents to the public trustee Nacole Jipping in an unredacted form, including memos relating to Rogoff’s personal finances.
Northrim issued a loan to Rogoff to purchase 100 percent ownership interest in the Anchorage Daily News in May 2014, and quickly changed the newspaper’s name to the Alaska Dispatch News. In early 2017, she pledged the newspaper’s assets on the Northrim loan, but had used operating revenue from the ADN to make payments on the Northrim loan, according to Trustee Nacole Jipping and her attorney’s analysis.
Jipping filed a Rule 2004 motion relating to the documents “to explore possible causes of action against Ms. Rogoff and Northrim Bank,” Lister wrote in his appeal.
Rule 2004 allows a look into the “acts, conduct, or property or to the liabilities and financial condition of the debtor, or to any matter which may affect the administration of the debtor’s estate.”
Rogoff’s Northrim loan file includes personal financial statements and tax returns that Rogoff submitted to support her loan application. But she has objected in numerous motions to turning over her personal financial information to the trustee, even after Jipping agreed to keep the information confidential in closed filings the public will not be allowed to view.
Now Rogoff is asking the 9th Circuit to “define the class of documents eligible for confidential treatment solely by terms of whether the document is ‘relevant’, and not by terms of whether the document qualifies for protection from public disclosure” under bankruptcy law, according to the appeal.
Lister argues the information provided to Northrim by Rogoff “do(es) not relate to the acts, conduct, or property or to the liabilities and financial condition of the” of the Alaska Dispatch “or to a matter which may affect the administration of the debtor’s estate.”
Due to the “peril in which this ruling places Ms. Rogoff’s interests in a highly confidential personal financial statements, tax returns and documents quoting them, she moves for leave to pursue an interlocutory appeal.”
That’s an appeal made during the interim stages of a case to prevent certain actions, in this case, revealing Rogoff’s financial details to the trustee.
The 9th Circuit will review the case and decide whether or not to hear the appeal, Lister said.
Naomi Klouda can be reached at [email protected].