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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 29, 2010

State audit of DBEDT critcizes use of private funds for overseas trade missions

Advertiser Staff

A state audit of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism released today was critical of the department’s handling of grant money and funds for the state’s 2005 trade mission to China and Korea.

“Our review of financial records from the Out-of-State Offices also found a deposit of $35,000 of private funds into the Taipei office’s bank account. The transfer of private funds directly into the office’s account jeopardized its non-profit status and threatened its ability to function as a government office,” the audit said.
“Moreover, our investigation found that the transferred funds were money solicited by the department from private companies to sponsor the 2005 (trade) mission,” the audit said.
The audit noted that the department has said its 2005 trade mission was thoroughly reviewed by the Legislature, and lawmakers concluded there were no violations.
The audit says the department did not give legislators full information on which to base that decision.
“The conclusions reached by the Legislature and the state agencies that reviewed the 2005 mission were based on incomplete, misleading, or erroneous information provided by the department. Therefore, the issues merit further review,” the audit said.