HONOLULU (KHON2) — The audit of Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ contracts and spending sparked concern after flagging 38 questionable transactions between 2012 to 2016. With funding from the State Legislature, OHA said a follow-up audit conducted by a national accounting company confirmed those concerns.
“The Plante Moran report finalized last week found 22 of the 38 identified transactions with evidence of fraud, waste and abuse,” said Carmen Hulu Lindsey, Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chair.
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OHA said those 22 transactions amounted to nearly $8 million.
“Looking back, some examples were an organization was given $1 million for which no clear work product was given, for which no receipts exist even for the money,” said Keli’i Akina, Office of Hawaiian Affairs At-Large Trustee.
Now, the board of nine trustees will need to meet and decide whether to hand these findings over to law enforcement.
“We need to seek legal recourse. We need to pursue prosecution wherever appropriate. The people of Hawaii, the beneficiaries of OHA and the citizens of our state deserve to have all funds reclaimed if at all possible,” Akina said.
OHA said it’s implementing tighter controls to prevent fraud from happening like creating a financial transparency website and eliminating CEO-initiated sponsorships.
“Since then, OHA has made incredible strides toward addressing improvements in policies, procedures and practices. These implementations strengthen OHA’s internal controls and mitigate, but not eliminate that fraud, waste and abuse transactions could occur,” Lindsey said.
OHA said it’s working on moving toward a new era of transparency and accountability.
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“If you have pilikia, if you have information, bring it now, because we are seeking accountability and to continue this investigation,” said Mililani Trask, Office of Hawaiian Affairs Hawaii Island Trustee.
“We are determined to ensure accountability for past wrongdoing,” said Lindsey.