Hawaii

Hawaii real estate agents report selling more homes sight-unseen than ever before

As a real estate agent, Catherine Pennell is used to taking a lot of phone calls. But since April, her phone has been ringing more often than during a typical year — she’s fielding two to three phone calls every day from people looking to move from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii.

“I think people are saying, ‘Life is short.’ It’s a lot of talk because they’re not here yet and they can’t get here yet, but I’ve done more sight-unseen sales than I’ve ever done during the pandemic,” said Pennell, who represents Kauai for KW Kauai Keller Williams. “I’ve done three in the last three months.”

Julie Peters, an agent with Island Boutique Realty on the island of Hawaii, said when wildfire season began in August, she was fielding at least one call each day from California residents wanting to escape the area due to smoke and fire danger. “One person wanted to come over immediately and rent in the meantime because she was so done with smoke,” Peters said. “The last five closings I did were sight-unseen. I had rarely done that before.”

Peters said many of her buyers this year were from the Bay Area and the bulk of them hail from the West Coast. From January to June 2020, California residents bought $587.6 million worth of Hawaii property, making up 41% of total sales during that period coming from the U.S., according to Title Guaranty, which owns and maintains the largest real estate database in Hawaii.

“Demand for Hawaii is always there. Everyone wants to invest, retire or vacation here, but it’s just grown exponentially this year,” Peters said. “A lot of people that were already looking toward retirement here sped it up, or people found out they could work from home. We got a rush

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Hawaii defense contractor charged with $12.8m coronavirus relief fraud



a man wearing a suit and tie: MailOnline logo


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A high-profile Hawaii-based defense contractor has been arrested on charges of swindling $12.8 million in funds intended to prop up small businesses during COVID-19.

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Martin Kao, 47, a generous political donor, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with bank fraud and money laundering, accused of siphoning off $2 million of the fraudulent loan into his own personal bank account.

The Department of Justice accused Kao of falsifying loan applications so that he could receive more money than he was entitled to under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was created by Congress as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act meant to stave off financial ruin for individuals and small businesses during the pandemic.   

Kao submitted at least two fraudulent PPP loan applications, prosecutors allege.

They claim he falsely inflated the number of employees on the loan application, and falsely certified that the applicant and its affiliates would not receive, and had not received, another PPP loan.  

He was charged with two counts of bank fraud and five counts of money laundering. 

Kao will make his initial appearance in court in Honolulu on Thursday, before U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield. 



a man wearing a suit and tie: Martin Kao, CEO of Navatek - now Martin Defense Group - was arrested on Wednesday


© Provided by Daily Mail
Martin Kao, CEO of Navatek – now Martin Defense Group – was arrested on Wednesday



David M. Dooley in a suit and tie: Kao (right) is the CEO of Navatek, which specializes in contracts for the Department of Defense and Nasa, among others


© Provided by Daily Mail
Kao (right) is the CEO of Navatek, which specializes in contracts for the Department of Defense and Nasa, among others

Kao in 2017 was appointed CEO of Navatek, a defense company with contracts for the Defense Department and Nasa.

Five days before his arrest Kao announced that the company was being renamed Martin Defense Group, after him.

‘While I respect and value Navatek’s history, our re-branding as Martin Defense Group allows us to turn

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Hawaii defense contractor accused of $12.8M in fraud coronavirus PPP loans

A Hawaii defense contractor has been charged with bank fraud and money laundering for stealing more than $12.8 million in Paycheck Protection Program money meant to assist businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, federal authorities alleged Wednesday.

Martin Kao, CEO of Martin Defense Group LLC, formerly known as Navatek LLC, transferred more than $2 million into his own personal accounts, a criminal complaint said.

Kao also submitted at least two fraudulent loan applications, authorities said.

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“According to the charges, Kao falsely inflated the number of employees on the loan application and falsely certified that the applicant and its affiliates would not receive, and had not received, another PPP loan,” the U.S. attorney’s office in Hawaii said in a statement.

Congress authorized the Paycheck Protection Program, known as PPP, in March to provide emergency financial assistance to those suffering economic effects of the pandemic through forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and other expenses.

Investigators talked to an executive and a former employee who said the company wasn’t affected by the pandemic, according to the criminal complaint.

The executive learned details about Kao’s loan application in July when he read a news article about Navatek being one of the largest PPP recipients in Hawaii. The company hired employees and opened branch offices during the pandemic, the executive told investigators.

Authorities describe Navatek as a “research, engineering, design, and innovations company that specializes in novel systems for the Department of Defense and other partners in academia and other scientific fields.”

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Kao’s first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.

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Hawaii defense contractor charged with defrauding government out of $12.8m in coronavirus relief aid

A high-profile Hawaii-based defense contractor has been arrested on charges of swindling $12.8 million in funds intended to prop up small businesses during COVID-19.

Martin Kao, 47, a generous political donor, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with bank fraud and money laundering, accused of siphoning off $2 million of the fraudulent loan into his own personal bank account.

The Department of Justice accused Kao of falsifying loan applications so that he could receive more money than he was entitled to under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was created by Congress as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act meant to stave off financial ruin for individuals and small businesses during the pandemic.   

Kao submitted at least two fraudulent PPP loan applications, prosecutors allege.

They claim he falsely inflated the number of employees on the loan application, and falsely certified that the applicant and its affiliates would not receive, and had not received, another PPP loan.  

He was charged with two counts of bank fraud and five counts of money laundering. 

Kao will make his initial appearance in court in Honolulu on Thursday, before U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield. 

Martin Kao, CEO of Navatek - now Martin Defense Group - was arrested on Wednesday

Martin Kao, CEO of Navatek – now Martin Defense Group – was arrested on Wednesday

Kao (right) is the CEO of Navatek, which specializes in contracts for the Department of Defense and Nasa, among others

Kao (right) is the CEO of Navatek, which specializes in contracts for the Department of Defense and Nasa, among others

Kao in 2017 was appointed CEO of Navatek, a defense company with contracts for the Defense Department and Nasa.

Five days before his arrest Kao announced that the company was being renamed Martin Defense Group, after him.

‘While I respect and value Navatek’s history, our re-branding as Martin Defense Group allows us to turn toward the future, and the opportunities we see to make a positive difference,’ said Kao in the September 25

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