HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii heiress Abigail Kawananakoa received a $142,000 federal loan meant for pandemic-stricken businesses, Hawaii News Now has learned.
Her attorney Bruce Voss said the 94-year-old Kawananakoa needed the Paycheck Protection Program loan because the three-year legal battle over her $215 million fortune had drained her bank accounts.
Her application said she planned to use the money to keep nine staffers working during the pandemic.
But her trustee James Wright said that most of the workers are actually personal staff and that the loan wasn’t needed because her trust was paying their salaries.
“It appears this loan was being used to pay for the personal household expenses of a wealthy heiress. That’s just outrageous,” said investigative reporter Ian Lind.
Kawananakoa lost control over her trust about two years ago when a state judge ruled two years ago that she didn’t have the capacity to manage her financial affairs. The trust held most of her assets.
Voss said her remaining money has been depleted because Wright racked up $7 million costs during the legal battle over the trust.
“Ms. Kawananakoa borrowed money to ensure that her staff in Honolulu was paid during the pandemic,” Voss said.
“Ms. Kawananakoa may be forced to close her beloved Lakeview quarter horse ranch in California, because the trust litigation has drained all of her available money.”
But Wright said closing the horse ranch was her own idea.
Court records also show that Kawananakoa still receives about $14 million a year in income from her trust’s stock in real estate developer James Campbell Co.
Federal records show that the PPP loan was issued in April, or three months before a state judge appointed a conservator ― former Hawaiian Electric Co. executive Robbie Alm ― to manage Kawananakoa’s financial affairs.
Attorney Megan Kau, who represents Kawananakoa’s former housekeepers, said she hopes Alm will investigate how the PPP loan was obtained.
“I cross examined Ms. Kawananakoa for hours and it was very clear that she’s not capable of managing her own finances. So who filled out this application for her?” said Kau.
“If somebody else filled out that application on her behalf and had her sign it and that included false misstatements .... (they could be) looking at personal criminal liability.”