Former chief of staff saw nothing wrong with Hakubotan deal at the time

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Former Governor's Chief of Staff Tony Babauta (PNC file photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s former chief of staff spoke out on the Hakubotan building affair.

Former chief of staff Tony Babauta told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo that he has yet to read the Office of Public Accountability’s report on the matter.

However, he said that at the time he didn’t see anything wrong.

The OPA has barred local vendor SH Enterprises Inc. from entering into any GovGuam contracts for a year.

That’s because the OPA found it in violation of procurement laws when it allowed GovGuam to use the Hakubotan building to open the War Claims Office in January of last year.

At the time, SH Enterprises was also performing a $3.7 million contract with GovGuam and was awarded a $5.9 million dollar contract three weeks later.

SH Enterprises owns the Hakubotan building and allowed GovGuam to use it free of charge.

The OPA determined that made use of the building a gift.

Vendors are prohibited from giving gifts to any GovGuam entity at any point in the procurement process.

Babauta said that although everyone involved had good intentions, he admits things could’ve been handled better.

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“It didn’t resonate with me…it didn’t jump out as a blip…that we should have looked at more carefully. I think at that point it was after the fact. I’m not saying that there’s not blame that should go around on this…there obviously is..and a little more due diligence probably would’ve been better in the process. What I had shared with you at the time a year ago, whatever it was, there seemed to be not only that particular company..but others were coming to the call and trying to help the government out and standing this up and kind of getting through the process of awarding claims to the survivors of the war,” Babauta said.

The OPA said that SH Enterprises has 14 days to appeal the decision.

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