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By Gerardo R. Partido

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety) – The Guam Office of the Public Auditor on Thursday confirmed rampant abuse of government-paid credit cards and travel expenditures at the Guam Economic Development and Commerce Authority.

OPA reported that from Oct. 2000 through Nov. 2003, five out of 10 credit cardholders made $206,549 in questionable charges. OPA said GEDCA employees regularly used government-issued credit cards not only for local restaurants and entertainment purchases, but also for travel related expenses that were either in addition to per diem that was already advanced or not supported with a travel authorization.

According to OPA, there were also miscellaneous charges for possible personal purchases.

Through the audited period, OPA said GEDCA employees made 485 charges costing $72,433 for local meals and entertainment of alleged GEDCA clients or other government officials for alleged government purposes.

Senior GEDCA managers incurred 444, or 92 percent, of the on-island meal and entertainment charges.

The OPA audit found that GEDCA’s senior management made 362 charges for $45,494 at local restaurants. A total of $19,889 was spent with 187 charges at Shirley’s Coffee Shop, the Guam Hilton, the Hyatt, Marty’s Restaurant, and Lonestar, the last two of which are coincidentally located directly across the street from GEDCA’s offices.

Senior management also made 82 charges costing $22,431 for entertainment at local bars, clubs and bowling alleys. The top five clubs visited were Liaison Karaoke Box, Kitano Zaka, Mac & Marti’s, Pelin’s Place, and Akasaka Rikyu where $15,909 was spent on 45 occasions.

September 5, 2005

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