10/1/2013 7:00:00 AM Judge: Hualapai must disclose Skywalk financial records Ruling comes in wrangling over revenue
Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa Miner Staff Reporter
KINGMAN - A federal bankruptcy court judge ruled Wednesday that the Hualapai tribe must produce its financial records on the Skywalk to the court.
Hwal' bay Ba Enterprises, the tribal organization in charge of running the Skywalk, had argued that it was protected by sovereign immunity.
Federal bankruptcy court Judge Brenda Moody Whinery ruled that sovereign immunity did not apply in this case.
"We are finally before a court that has jurisdiction over the tribe and records and, for the first time in three years, we will finally see all of the financial transactions that should have been shared with Grand Canyon Skywalk Development," said Mark Tratos, an attorney for Grand Canyon Skywalk Development. The company is owned by the family of David Jin, the investor behind the construction of the Skywalk. Jin died of cancer in June.
A comment from the Hualapai Tribe was not received before press time.
Jin and the Hualapai Tribal Council have been fighting over the proceeds from ticket sales and who is responsible for finishing the Skywalk visitor center since 2009. Both sides have demanded the release of financial records from each other. Jin's attorneys say they've released the records for Grand Canyon Skywalk Development, but the tribal council has refused to release its records.
In August 2012, an arbiter awarded Jin $28.6 million in unpaid fees and damages.
In March, Sa' Nyu Wa, the tribal corporation that was in charge of running the Skywalk, filed for bankruptcy and turned control of the Skywalk over to the tribe's other tourism organization - Hwal' bay Ba Enterprises.
In April, Jin's attorneys filed a motion in the bankruptcy court to protect the $28.6 million awarded to Grand Canyon Skywalk Development and demanded to see the tribe's financial records for the attraction. Hwal' bay Ba and the tribal council filed a motion to quash Jin's request, claiming sovereign immunity.