by Andrew Walden
Sources within OHA report Hawley Iona, Chief Financial Officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs resigned this week. A memo circulating to OHA employees solicits applications for the CFO position which Iona, a 10-year OHA employee, occupied since 2011.
Iona’s sudden departure comes amidst turmoil at the top for OHA. Federal recognition opponent, Dr Keli'i Akina PhD, was elected to the OHA Board of Trustees November 8. With OHA CEO Kamanao Crabbe predicting “dire consequences” as Trustees voted, long-time dissident Trustee Rowena Akana was elected Chair December 8.
OHA insiders say Akana’s first act was to issue a memo rescinding Crabbe’s procurement authority—but that was only the beginning of the “dire consequences” for Crabbe. An OHA Board of Trustees meeting is set for January 3 with “personnel matters” on the executive session agenda.
Does Iona’s departure presage Crabbe’s? Its hard to say. Five Trustees signed a petition forcing a second Trustees meeting January 4 to discuss the ongoing litigation by Akana and Akina against OHA over conflicts of interest surrounding the Gentry purchase and illegal funding of federal recognition efforts.
In January, 2015, Honolulu accounting firm PKF Pacific (now Spire Hawaii), retained as OHA’s financial advisor, reported to Trustees that "OHA Will Run Out of Funds". On April 5, 2015, PKF managing partner Patrick Oki was arrested at the airport and charged with 13 counts of theft, forgery and money laundering as part of a three-year embezzlement scam against his own company. In spite of the scandal, OHA’s check register shows a total of $52,044.14 in five payments to PKF in 2014-2015 with two checks cut after Oki’s arrest. Spire is still working for OHA, with very little to show for it except lots of invoices, an Excel-based accounting program, and a half-baked ‘Fiscal Sustainability Program’ rushed out by Crabbe in a desperate bid to save his position.
Earlier this month, Akina released a report highly critical of OHA’s money problems: “Crucial Recommendations for Achieving Fiscal Sustainability”.
Iona did not respond to a request for comment.