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OPA report says mineral extraction at Guam raceway lacks oversight

By Dana Williams

An audit of the coral and topsoil removal from Guam International Raceway Park found that there was a lack of consistent oversight by the Guam Economic Development Authority and the Chamorro Land Use Commission.'

As a result, auditors couldn't determine the total volume of materials extracted or how much money was due to the Land Trust Commission.

The Office of Public Accountability audit was conducted at the request of the speaker of the Guam Legislature and covered the Guam Racing Federation's operations of the raceway between June 1, 1998 and Jan. 31, 2023.

The property, under the control of the Chamorro Land Trust Commission, was leased to the Guam Racing Federation in 1998 for use as a raceway. The 20-year lease allowed soil removal and mineral extraction but contained provisions for compensating the CLTC.

Guam Economic Development Authority was required to conduct inspections and monitor operations.

Among the findings released in a report released Sept. 7:

· There is not enough information to determine have much material was extracted. Documents are missing, and some information is not consistent with the racing federation's records.

  • Financial information is missing and inconsistent. "Due to the fluctuating prices charged to each company (sometimes concurrently) and gaps in reporting periods, we could not validate the information we reviewed," the audit stated.

  • Although GEDA was supposed to be inspecting and monitoring construction activity, "there was no evidence such inspections or monitoring were conducted or that billing reports were collected. After the agreement between CLTC and GRF expired in 2018, GRF continued to occupy the property without an approved license or lease as required by law."

  • Guam Racing Federation continued to allow mineral extraction activity after a cease and desist order was issued.

The audit concluded that there may not have been a regulatory agency that had jurisdiction over the mineral extractions on Land Trust properties.

Recommendations included having the CLTC establish standard operating procedures for invoicing and collecting royalty fees, requiring supporting documentation and having policies in place to make sure tenants meet obligations before allowing new activities.

In addition, auditors recommended the legislature "clearly define in statute all terms associated with activities of earth excavation and to identify or establish jurisdiction of the development or exploitation of natural resources on CLTC property or to include CLTC in statutory requirements regulated by the Guam Natural Resources Board."

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