A judge in the Northern Marianas has ordered the release of a ship being held in Saipan.
There had been a maritime lien on the cargo vessel, MV Luta, but District Court judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood said this was invalid and ordered its release.
She said it was invalid because one of the people bringing the suit, Takahisa Yamamoto, was also part of the joint venture involved with the vessel.
Mr Yamamoto is suing the Lieutenant Governor Victor Hocog and the owner/operators of MV Luta for allegedly refusing to pay back the $US3.4 million that he put up for the purchase of the vessel.
The operators' lawyer had argued that the joint venture proposal by Mr Yamamoto was a 50/50 split of the profits and losses of the company.