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NEWS: Governor orders payments to illegally-procured hotels without contracts

By Johnnie Rosario

(Tumon, Guam) The governor has ordered her budget director to pay the hotels used for quarantine and isolation the balance of invoices from those hotels, despite the fact that the hotels were procured illegally.

One of those hotels - the Pacific Star - has a 2016 $32 million outstanding mortgage with the Bank of Guam, the governor's family's bank. Her son in law and legal counsel, Haig Huynh, conducted the procurement of these hotels, even though the funding for their use is coming from Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense accounts. About $7 million in federal CARES Act funding was deposited into those accounts, most of which is to pay the hotels.

Mr. Huynh was Ms. Leon Guerrero's counsel at Bank of Guam, when she served there as president and CEO, and when that mortgage was executed.

"I... instruct compensation contemplated in the attached agreements and invoices shall be paid, subject to any necessary reconciliation. Where services continue to be provided, I instruct that future invoices be paid in accordance with any applicable terms and conditions of such agreements." - Lou Leon Guerrero to budget director Lester Carlson, and cash director Ed Birn

Charles Esteves, administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, confirmed he did not sign any of the hotel contracts. His is the first signature required for the execution of these contracts.

He also confirmed that his agency is not aware of any purchase orders, requisitions, or requests for direct payment that would legally precede the payment to these hotels. About $142,000 already was paid to at least two of the hotels, with Mr. Carlson admitting in an April 17 email that he was aware the payments were made without Mr. Esteves's consent.

Mr. Huynh had directed the advance payments to the hotels in several emails in early April. Advance payments are illegal, according to §5007 of the Guam Procurement Law.

There also are no price quotations on record that would show that Mr. Huynh solicited and received price quotes from several hotels before choosing hotels that have outstanding loan balances with his mother in law's bank.

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