Sonny Ada: I’m not corrupt … Carl Gutierrez: You let the corruption happen

Guam Visitors Bureau board of directors member Sonny Ada defended himself and his family’s company against implications he was involved in any corruption alleged against some board members in a recent investigative report. Mr. Ada was board chairman during the majority of the period of the alleged corruption. The businessman prepared, read aloud, and entered in the GVB record a statement denying his involvement in any such corruption.

“I assure you all I am not a corrupt person nor involved in any corruption or schemes to benefit me or my company through my involvement with the GVB,” Mr. Ada wrote.

Former Gov. Carl Gutierrez, the GVB president and CEO, roared back at Ada in a May 4 letter that accuses Mr. Ada of allowing the corruption to happen, and allegedly breaking the law in other ways.

Read the entirety of both their written statements below:

Sonny Ada’s statement:

Good afternoon, everyone.

Thank you for joining the meeting today.  I want to thank Chairman Chiu for appointing me to chair this committee and the staff assigned to manage this committee and its duties.

But before we get started, I’d like everyone to know I am an appointed volunteer director by Governor Lou Leon Guerrero.  I serve at her pleasure and serve to contribute to the growth and development of tourism for the island.

Although the Business Risk Compliance and Control Committee Report is with the AG and the OPA for their review and disposition, on April 28, 2023, the General Manager went ahead and publicly stated on the Ray Gibson talk show that I should not be on the GVB board because I am “implicated so badly” on the report.

I have reviewed the report and the referenced June 2020 emails in the report that somehow try to tie me (as then GVB Chairman) to taking illegal, scheming, or corrupt actions relative to the United Guam Marathon, Guam Sports Events, Inc., and Ruder Integrated Marketing Services which the report centers around.  The Deputy General Manager, CFO, and staff were included in the emails mentioned in the report.  I was never alerted to any, if any, improprieties. Also, if there were more than 8 directors in attendance at meetings that approved funds relative to the UGM, I likely didn’t even vote on approving such funds as the Chairman does not typically vote on motions unless his/her vote is needed.

I’d further like to state, I, nor my family’s company, Ada’s Trust and Investment, Inc. have any investment nor interest in any of the above-named companies nor in the UGM overall.  I, nor my family’s company, Ada’s Trust and Investment, Inc., do not benefit from any actions I have taken as then GVB Chairman related to funds or funding of the UGM, ever.

As long as I have been serving on this board, I, nor my family’s company, Ada’s Trust and Investment, Inc., directly benefits from my volunteer service on the GVB board of directors.

I will defend my name and my company’s name if called on by the AG and/or the OPA relative to the Business Risk Compliance and Control Committee Report.

Because I/directors have been accused on that same talk show of trying to stop or derail the outcome of the report, I have to state I am not involved in such as accused.

That being said, I assure you all I am not a corrupt person nor involved in any corruption or schemes to benefit me or my company through my involvement with the GVB.

I’ like a copy of my comments included in the committee report.

Thank you, we may now proceed with the agenda.


Carl Gutierrez’s statement:

Director Ada:

I saw the prepared statement you read and ordered staff to make a part of the record at the North America, Pacific, Philippines & New Markets Committee meeting yesterday. Instead of looking forward for the good of our industry like the Chairman ordered at the Legislative oversight, you continue to look back. Instead of obeying the Chairman, you put into the record that I told Ray Gibson that you should not be on the Board. But you left out that you wanted to resign.

My job is to enforce the Board’s rules and regulations. I have said it before and will say it again because even though the Board does not want to, getting the people’s money back is important. The Board is responsible for correcting their bad habits and collecting when GVB illegally or unethically pays money out. Please step aside if you can’t see that’s important. The Bureau needs board members who want to follow the law in building our tourism industry.

It is obvious that directors continue to skirt the law. Your hot mike moment in a hushed conversation with Director Rhodes about firing legal counsel and no one disagreeing with the minutes. Chairman Chiu saying that Director Morinaga is representing Lion Air when he never put it on the record. Lion Air being given GVB monies when Director Morinaga never disclosed his financial interest. I knew your father well. A wonderful man who came from a great family and built wonderful companies. He followed the laws to the letter and led by example.

No one on the Board ever checked Sam Shinohara when he was using the Board to take TAF money for years to funnel it through a nonprofit and benefit his company’s brand for free. No one ever asked who besides Ben Ferguson was in Guam Sports. You all looked the other way like ostriches. You are supposed to safe keep the People’s money and make sure it is legal when it is spent. If you were played, then say on the record that you were played.

But your blaming staff and management when you and Sam agree in emails to order the CFO to set up a payment that did not have to be paid because of the pandemic is not the best example. When management and employees pushed back on the virtual marathon and wanted to cancel events, and Sam got mad at them, you did nothing to help the Bureau ensure its money was spent wisely. Blaming others when either Sam hoodwinked you or you looked the other way is just plain wrong. If that was your own company’s money, I’m sure it would be a different story.

Blaming the board’s policy is also wrong because not only was it illegal to miss all the meetings that the board missed last year, but it is also illegal for the chairman not to vote. I want to move forward, but no one should think they can hide from what happened and blame employees and management when the Board used the powers it didn’t have to control the Bureau and its employees.


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