Audit slams DBEDT, Director fights back - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Audit slams DBEDT, Director fights back

DBEDT Director Ted Liu DBEDT Director Ted Liu
Gov. Linda Lingle Gov. Linda Lingle

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An audit on the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has sparked controversy at the Capitol. The state auditor goes as far as to call on the firing of DBEDT's director.

The audit claims DBEDT misused taxpayer money on trips and expensive dinners and also made special deals and hid information from lawmakers. But DBEDT Director Ted Liu says none of it is true.

He says the audit distorts the events and says no federal laws or guidelines were violated. Liu fired back at state auditor Marion Higa saying the accusations are the latest attempt to slam the department for political reasons.

"To try and criminalize or to paint as violations every disagreement is not only unproductive but it's very unfair and I think in this particular investigation the auditor has crossed the line," said Liu.

 "If there is any waste, it is found in a two-year plus investigation and a report that is erroneous, that fails to accurately assess factual information and that is unbalanced in its approach," said Liu.

Monday, Gov. Linda Lingle issued a statement disagreeing with the audit results and said that expenses for trips and dinners were paid for by donations and sponsors.

"The legislative auditor's report of DBEDT offers erroneous findings and demonstrates a lack of understanding and appreciation of the critical role Hawaii's overseas offices in Beijing and Taipei play in the economic future of our state," said Gov. Lingle.

"Ted Liu is an exceptional leader and innovator in the fields of energy, the economy, and international relations. The State of Hawai'i is fortunate to have someone of his stature and talent leading DBEDT. His ability to establish enhanced cross-cultural links to China have been invaluable in building and cementing the progress we have made to date. I intend to continue working closely with Ted, our overseas office staff, and the entire DBEDT team to build on the successes we have achieved."

Higa said the final report has not been officially released and she won't comment until it is.

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