FBI joins investigation into OHA spending, contracts

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Mar. 8, 2018 at 5:53 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The FBI has joined the state's criminal investigation into the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawaii News Now has learned.

Multiple sources say the state and federal authorities have broadened their probe, requesting copies of OHA contracts, trustee emails and financial records of OHA's nonprofit subsidiaries.

OHA declined comment during a board meeting Thursday, and its attorney declined to provide details of the investigation to a beneficiary.

"I think there's something they're trying to hide," said Healani Sonoda-Pale, chair of Ka Lahui Hawaii's political action committee, who asked the board to disclose details of the investigation.

"There needs to be more transparency in this whole agency, because it is for the benefit of kanaka maoli."

Sources said that the state Attorney General's office recently sent OHA a letter, disclosing the FBI's role in the investigation.

During a meeting behind closed doors, multiple sources said that OHA's attorney Robert Klein advised board members to hire their own attorneys.

The federal involvement comes as several state agencies, including the state Ethics Commission and the legislative auditor have issued critical reports on the way OHA spends its money.

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