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Retired state official to pay $5,000 fine for accepting $650 in meals at Honolulu restaurants

  • GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                A pedestrian and his dog sat in front of the darkened Nobu Honolulu in Kakaako on Oct. 14. The former chief examiner of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Insurance Division will pay a $5,000 fine after accepting over $650 worth of meals from a vendor he oversaw, including dinner for himself and his wife at the upscale restaurant.

    GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A pedestrian and his dog sat in front of the darkened Nobu Honolulu in Kakaako on Oct. 14. The former chief examiner of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Insurance Division will pay a $5,000 fine after accepting over $650 worth of meals from a vendor he oversaw, including dinner for himself and his wife at the upscale restaurant.

The former chief examiner of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Insurance Division will pay a $5,000 fine after accepting over $650 worth of meals from a vendor he oversaw, including dinner for himself and his wife at upscale Nobu Honolulu restaurant, the state Ethics Commission said today.

In a document of the charges against Tian Xiao, the Ethics Commission said that Xiao allegedly violated the state’s Gifts Law and Gifts Reporting Law by accepting four meals from a vendor that he oversaw in August 2018, October 2018, July 2019 and September 2019 worth a combined value of approximately $654.

The cost of the Nobu Honolulu meal for three people alone was $500.

Xiao admitted and declared under penalty of perjury that he was responsible for negotiating the contract rate for vendor Risk & Regulatory Consulting, LLC and monitoring RRC’s work to conduct financial examinations of some regulated insurance companies on behalf of the DCCA’s Insurance Division, according to the Ethics Commission.

Xiao held the title of chief examiner of the Financial Surveillance and Examination Branch for DCCA’s Insurance Division before he retired in late 2019. He could not immediately be reached for comment today.

The Ethics Commission said that Xiao considered the meals to be social dinners with unidentified RRC representatives. Xiao insisted that he took RRC representatives hiking and that he paid for meals, baked goods, coffee and other snacks on occasion.

RRC representatives, however, told the Ethics Commission staff that they did not recall Xiao paying for any meals.

After the $500 August 2018 dinner at Nobu Honolulu attended by Xiao, his wife and an RRC representative, Xiao told investigators that he gave the RRC representative $100 in cash. But the RRC representative said Xiao paid no portion of the dinner.

Xiao failed to file gift disclosure statements for any of the meals, the Ethics Commission said.

The Ethics Commission made no findings of fact and made no conclusions about whether Xiao violated the state Ethics Code.

“However, if this case were to proceed to a contested case hearing, based on the admitted facts above, the Commission would likely find and conclude that Respondent Xiao violated the Gifts law … and the Gifts Reporting law,” the Ethics Commission said in its document of the allegations against Xiao.

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