Monday, July 6, 1998

Souki is
called in trustee

He tells state attorneys
his role in a Maui land sale
to Bishop Estate

By Rick Daysog


House Speaker Joseph Souki was questioned by the state attorney general's office over a Maui land deal involving the Bishop Estate that netted him a $132,000 commission.

Souki (D, Maalaea) said he discussed his role in the deal about a month ago with state attorneys investigating allegations of financial wrongdoing by estate trustees.

According to Souki, the state subpoenaed the Bishop Estate for information about its $5.3 million purchase of a 100-acre parcel in Pukalani, Maui, from developer Everett Dowling. Souki had served as a consultant to Dowling.

Bishop Estate plans to build its permanent Maui campus on the site.

The attorney general's office was unavailable for comment.

Estate critics have cited Souki's involvement as a conflict of interest, saying he led opposition to a bill to limit the compensation of trustees of the Bishop Estate and other charitable trusts. After it failed on an initial vote, public pressure prompted the House to pass the measure.

Souki has denied any wrongdoing, saying it was a private real estate transaction.

"They have a nice land site and hopefully they will have a beautiful school," Souki said this morning.

As part of its inquiry into the Maui land deal, the state also has subpoenaed Dowling and state Sen. Joe Tanaka (D, Wailuku).

Tanaka earned a $42,000 commission from Dowling last year but said his consulting work did not involve the Bishop Estate. Tanaka, who has not yet met with state attorneys, said he helped introduce Dowling to Sports Shinko Inc., which originally owned the Maui property.

State records show that Dowling acquired 273 acres from Sports Shinko in December 1996, before selling 100 acres of it to the estate.

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