DCCA Headquarters where the insurance division is located

BY JIM DOOLEY – Peter Hsieh has resigned as chief attorney in the state Securities Enforcement Branch after the

DCCA Headquarters

state began an investigation of his past professional and financial problems.

“He submitted his resignation yesterday,” said Brent Suyama, spokesman for the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

The resignation is effective in three weeks, said Suyama.

DCCA began an investigation of Hsieh after Hawaii Reporter disclosed earlier this month that he had reported some $900,000 in unpaid tax and child support obligations in bankruptcy papers filed last year.

Hsieh did not disclose those issues to DCCA director Keali’I Lopez before he was hired in February, Suyama said.

After Hsieh was hired, a former business associate filed a civil fraud complaint against him that is pending in federal Bankruptcy Court.

Lopez was unaware of the fraud allegation, which Hsieh has denied.

Hsieh told Lopez before he was hired that the state Supreme Court reprimanded him last year for mishandling client trust funds in his legal practice in 2006.

Lopez said through Suyama that Hsieh explained the circumstances surrounding that reprimand before the state decided to hire him.

In proceedings last year concerning his child support obligations, Hsieh said the reprimand came as a result of accounting problems caused by a former bookkeeper.

Hsieh cited the then-pending Supreme Court reprimand in an unsuccessful attempt to reduce the level of child support owed to his ex-wife.

He told a child support hearings officer that because the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel wanted to suspend his law license for three months he could not find work with a private law firm.

Lopez ordered an investigation of Hsieh after learning of the bankruptcy case and the fraud allegation against him.

“We are extremely concerned and we have begun our own internal investigation,” Lopez said through Suyama.

Last week Suyama said Hsieh had been demoted pending the outcome of the probe.

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com