State tax boss
joins inquiry into
Kamikawa was an attorney-adviserBy Mike Yuen
with the Internal Revenue Service
State Tax Director Ray Kamikawa, an expert on federal tax laws applicable to charitable organizations, has joined the state's investigation of the Bishop Estate.
He was instructed by Gov. Ben Cayetano to be "directly involved" in the inquiry headed by Attorney General Margery Bronster. All three met for an hour yesterday afternoon to discuss what Kamikawa and Cayetano spokeswoman Kathleen Racuya-Markrich would only describe as "the legal issues" in the state's investigation into the estate, one of the nation's largest charitable trusts and Hawaii's largest private landowner.
"It's a challenge to work through all of the tax-exempt laws," Kamikawa said. "It's a highly technical area. So it helps to have someone who already has the experience and background."
Kamikawa, a former attorney-adviser with the Internal Revenue Service in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Honolulu, knows what is permitted under tax laws that apply to the operations of charitable organizations and even what "individuals related to those organizations," as he put it, can and cannot do.
His direct involvement, Kamikawa said, will mainly be to offer "perspective and judgment" to Bronster.
Asked if the state's investigation is expanding to include possible tax violations, Kamikawa said he will simply be providing "guidance" in that area.
He said it is up to Bronster to decide whether she wants to look beyond possible violations of state probate and trust laws.
Estate spokesman Kekoa Paulsen said estate officials had no immediate comment on Kamikawa's joining the state investigation.
Kamikawa said he felt a sense of urgency from Cayetano that "not only me but my staff assist the attorney general."
His office has about 30 staffers who are qualified to assist Bronster with the auditing and accounting aspects of her investigation, but it hasn't yet been determined how many will be assigned, Kamikawa said.
Moreover, Bronster has yet to outline where she wants his office to focus, Kamikawa said.
Kamikawa insisted that the announcement that he was now directly involved in the investigation was not meant to counter the Bishop Estate's unveiling of William McCorriston, a high-profile attorney in controversial cases, as its new lawyer.
"What we're trying to do," Kamikawa said, "is marshal our resources."
Ray KamikawaAge: 45.
Experience: attorney-adviser, Internal Revenue Service, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Honolulu; attorney in private practice, Honolulu; deputy state attorney general, tax division; adjunct professor, University of Hawaii law school.
Education: University of Hawaii, undergraduate degree in economics (cum laude); George Washington University Law Center; Georgetown University law school, master of laws in taxation.
Bishop Estate Archive
By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Margery Bronster, Hawaii's attorney general, works
in her office. On her desk sits an 8-inch file labeled,
"Bishop Estate (Working File)."
Heen: Trustees needBy Rod Ohira
to provide the answers
Authors of the "Broken Trust" essay have defended Attorney General Margery Bronster's investigation and demanded that Bishop Estate trustees provide requested documents to clear the air.
"The trustees need to be open and candid with the attorney general about the estate's affairs," said Walter Heen, who co-authored the essay with Randall Roth, Samuel King, Monsignor Charles Kekumano and Gladys Brandt. "She has the authority, indeed the duty, to undertake the investigation that she is pressing.
"We need to disperse the trustees' smokescreen and let the light shine in," Heen added. "The actions of the trustees and the probability that they will continue to stonewall the attorney general clearly contribute to the need for a receiver to be appointed to assist in the investigation rather than thwart it."
King said Bishop Estate has a legal obligation to provide certain documents.
"The annual accounting rendered to the courts by the Bishop Estate is required by Princess Pauahi's will, not by the attorney general," King said. "Any court-endorsed guidelines already in place for reviewing those accountings have nothing to do with an investigation of the activities of individual trustees."
Bishop Estate's attorney Bill McCorriston, however, is not opposed to providing Bronster with documents that are being subpoenaed but wants the information to remain confidential.
"All we have to do is reach an agreement to keep it confidential, and she would have the information tomorrow," McCorriston said. "She has not given us one reason why we can't do this.
"We think she's obligated (under the Uniform Information Practices Act) to agree to keep material obtained during an investigation confidential, so this is very puzzling to us," he added. "The offer was made on Day 1, so who's stonewalling who?"
Roth, meanwhile, said McCorriston's recent statements about his controlling Bronster's investigation is ridiculous.
"This is reminiscent of trustee Dickie Wong's repeated attempts to mischaracterize the Broken Trust essay as my handiwork, as though Gladys Brandt, Monsignor Kekumano, Walter Heen and Sam King are somehow under my control," Roth said.
In response, McCorriston said, "I don't mind being criticized for what I say, but don't criticize me for what I didn't say. When did I ever accuse him of controlling (the other authors)?
"But I do think he has influenced the attorney general to conduct an investigation to focus on what he wants investigated," McCorriston added.
Heen said the arrogance of the trustees is a major stumbling block toward a resolution.
"The trustees' attempt to color the present situation as an attack on the estate is at the base of their arrogant attempt to use estate employees, estate attorneys and estate funds to protect themselves," Heen said.
"This milking of the estate's funds for their private ends is characteristic of the manner in which they have mismanaged the estate up to now."
McCorriston disagreed. He said Bishop Estate is cooperating with the probate court-approved fact-finding investigation being conducted by retired judge Patrick Yim.
"The procedure is running its course. It's disingenuous of critics to say the estate is not cooperating and more than unfair to accuse us of stonewalling the investigation pertaining to the school," he said.
Bishop Estate Archive