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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 5, 2003

Man pleads guilty in providing false tax data linked to illegal donations

By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

The chief accountant of a local company that was fined last year for making illegal contributions to Mayor Jeremy Harris and other politicians pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to assisting in the preparation of a false corporate tax return.

According to deputy U.S. Attorney Michael Seabright, Yiu Wing Wong, also known as Wayne Wong, admitted in court to booking reimbursements for political contributions made by Geolab employees as deductible businesses expenses.

"In fact, political contributions are not deductible on federal tax returns," Seabright said.

Wong is scheduled to be sentenced in March.

According to a plea agreement, Wong was employed as Geolab's chief accountant and was responsible for assisting in the company's corporate tax returns from 1997 to 2000. During 1997, various Geolabs employees were told to make political contributions to specific candidates, prosecutors said.

The employees were then told, often by Wong, that Geolabs would reimburse them in full. Wong, after making the reimbursement payments to the employees, reflected the reimbursement as a deductible corporate expense on the company's books, prosecutors said.

Wong then provided the false entries to Geolab's independent tax preparer, the prosecutors said. The false entries were treated on the 1997 tax return as a deductible expense. For the tax year 1997, Wong caused political contribution reimbursements totaling $13,000 to be falsely reported on the tax return, prosecutors said.

Wong faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Geolabs Inc., a Kalihi-based geotechnical engineering firm, was fined $64,000 last year for making $124,700 in illegal contributions since 1997. The company, through affiliates, employees, and spouses funneled almost $48,000 to Mayor Harris since 1997.

Reach Peter Boylan at pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8110.