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Regents hire accounting firm for concert debacle investigation

By Craig Gima

LAST UPDATED: 5:23 p.m. HST, Sep 28, 2012

A University of Hawaii Board of Regent's task force looking into the failed Stevie Wonder concert has hired an accounting firm to help it prepare a report on how the university was apparently scammed out of $200,000, and to examine operational, financial and oversight practices.

Board of Regents Chairman Eric Martinson said KMH LLP will be paid up to $50,000 for their services.

Regent vice chairman James Lee told the board that they would like to expand their investigation in phases to look at broader issues raised by the Wonder concert, such as university governance.

The probe comes on the heels of a more than $50,000 external probe of the debacle by the Cades Schutte law firm, which was commissioned by the university. The UH also is paying up to $25,000 to Honolulu attorney Robert S. Katz and his firm, Torkildson Katz Moore Hetherington & Harris, to assist in the aftermath of the ill-fated concert.

Lee said the regents' task force is still working to present its report on the Wonder concert at the board's next meeting on Oct. 18.

But Lee assured members that the task force will not rush the report and it could be delayed if task force members feel it is not ready.

Lee told the board that the task force wants to continue its work after presenting the initial report and look at best fiscal practices at other universities and whether UH should change some of its policies and procedures.

The task force has met twice since the regents approved its formation on Sept. 5, most recently on Wednesday. 

The Operational and Financial Controls Improvement Advisory Task Group consists of five regents and four professionals in the field of business, audit and accounting. 

The report of the task force will be made public when it is presented to the regents.

Regent John Holzman urged the task force to make sure its report is complete, tough and fair. 

"We're the issue too. The board and our credibility are involved here too," he said.

Task force members are: James H. Q. Lee, vice chairman of the Board of Regents and chairman of the Committee on University Audits; Barry Mizuno, regent and vice chairman of the Committee on University Audits; Saedene Ota, regent and member of the Committee on University Audits; Jan Sullivan, regent and member of the Committee on University Audit; Benjamin Kudo, regent; Lawrence Rodriguez, business consultant; Terri Fujii, managing partner, Honolulu office of Ernst & Young LLP; Patrick Oki, managing partner, PKF Pacific Hawaii LLP; and Cory Kubota, Assurance Principal, Accuity LLP.

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