Members of RI’s Chace family, Buff Chace, feuding over $70M trust

PROVIDENCE — One of Rhode Island’s most prominent families is locked in a bitter legal dispute over the alleged mismanagement of a $70-million trust, and it’s pitting cousin against cousin.

Malcolm Chace IV, his siblings and their children are seeking to have their cousin Arnold B. “Buff” Chace Jr. removed as trustee of a $70-plus-million trust that Malcolm’s father, Malcolm “Kim” Chace III, left his heirs upon his death in 2011.

Malcolm IV’s faction cites a climate of animus and distrust in requesting Buff’s removal. They say they have been spurned for more than a decade in their attempts to get an accounting of how the trust has been managed. They accuse Buff of breaching their trust and his duties by engaging in self-dealing and using the fund for his own enrichment.

Providence developer Arnold B. “Buff” Chace Jr.  faces a legal challenge from a cousin over his performance as trustee of a $70-million family trust.

“I think some of the paperwork raises questions. Who got what, and who benefited? Those are the issues,” said former US Attorney Robert Clark Corrente, who is among the lawyers representing Malcolm IV and 12 other beneficiaries.

Also at stake is whether a trustee can invest trust assets in an entity in which they hold an interest, particularly without notice to the beneficiaries, Corrente said.

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Corrente said he believes “unequivocally” that trustees have an obligation to notify the beneficiaries about transactions.

“We think the law is clear on that,” he said. Deposits in the case are in progress.

Dueling allegations of self-dealing

Buff Chace and co-trustee William Saltonstall, Kim’s stepson, shot back in court documents that any charges of animus and distrust are a “manufactured pretext” for Malcolm IV to enrich himself and come in retaliation for Malcolm IV’s father not naming him trustee. They accuse Malcolm IV, who goes by Malcolm Jr., of wanting to manage the

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