Princess Kawananakoa criticizes OHA's use of funds, demands transparency

Princess Kawananakoa criticizes OHA's use of funds, demands transparency
Updated: Apr. 5, 2017 at 10:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Over the past decade, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has transferred millions of dollars of its real estate holdings, including its ownership of Waimea Valley and a poi mill on Kauai to private, nonprofit companies that it controls.

But critics say those nonprofits were created to shield OHA from public scrutiny, and to conceal mismanagement.

"These LLCs are really a scheme for OHA to avoid the sunshine law," said Jim Bickerton, attorney of Hawaiian royalty descendant Abigail Kawananakoa.

Kawananakoa is demanding that OHA make public the finances of the nonprofits, saying she is "deeply concerned about what appears to be a misuse and misdirection of trust funds by OHA."

These nonprofits appeared to have lost about $261,000 in 2015, which is the latest year for which figures are available. Figures for all of the nonprofits were not available.

A review of state business registration also show that the nonprofits list former OHA managers Clyde Namuo and Richard Pezzulo as officers.

"It will become the playground of insiders and wheeler dealers, and will really hurt the cause of Hawaiian people," said Bickerton.

OHA defended its use of the nonprofits, saying it plans to address any misunderstandings about them at a board meeting next month.

Kawananakoa also filed an ethics complaint against OHA CEO Kamanao Crabbe on Tuesday. She alleges he failed to disclose that he's also an officer of these nonprofits. He declined comment.

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