Growing corruption probe leads OHA board to debate ousting CEO

Published: Mar. 22, 2018 at 3:10 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 22, 2018 at 6:17 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Office of Hawaiian Affair's board of trustees went behind closed doors to debate the future of its embattled CEO amid a growing federal and state investigation into the agency's spending.

While no decision was made today, several sources say that five board members want to oust CEO Kamanao Crabbe, who has held the post since 2012. The board needs six votes to remove him.

The debate over Crabbe's future has split the board.

"I have been on record already calling for serious action to be taken by fellow trustees to deal with the financial revelations about the Office of Hawaiian Affairs," said OHA Trustee Kelii Akina.

Crabbe's supporters urged trustees to keep Crabbe, saying board infighting is distracting OHA from fulfilling its mission.

"Each and every one of you stop the fighting. Lay your swords down. I beg you, please," said OHA employee Cynthia Caberto.

"The true travesty has been the money spent on legal fees among you all fighting each other when we could have housed more people."

OHA's attorney Robert Klein said the board wants to further review the issue before bringing the matter to a vote.

Hawaii News Now has learned the state Attorney General's office and the FBI are conducting a wide-ranging investigation into allegations of "public corruption and misappropriation" of taxpayer and state funds at OHA.

Authorities have asked OHA for thousands of pages of documents, including records of contracts dating back to 2012.

They're also asking for nearly six years of OHA bank statements, records of credit card and check transactions, wire transfers and all information relating to OHA's outside investments.

Only a small portion of the records requested involve actions taken by individual trustees.

Most of the documents relate to actions taken by or approved by Crabbe and OHA's top management.

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